A bunch of parsnips sitting on the ground.

How to Plant Parsnips in Your Garden

For the best winter parsnips, sow as soon as the soil has warmed up in spring. They will grow all summer, forming sweet and starchy winter roots.

When to plant: Early spring.

At their best: Winter.

Time to complete: 30 minutes for sowing; 3 hours for planting out.

You will need: Parsnip seed, string, straw, wire, plant markers.

Sow in drills

Always sow fresh seed. On well-drained soil, mark out a line with string and make a shallow drill, then sow seed thinly along it. Once germinated, thin to 3 in (7 cm) apart for small, sweet roots, or slightly farther apart for larger ones.

Frost protection

In cold weather you may need to apply a straw mulch (pinned down with hoops of wire) to prevent the soil and the parsnips from freezing.

Harvest crops

Parsnips taste sweetest after a light frost, so don’t harvest too early. The leaves die down in winter, so you will need to mark the rows well so that roots are easily found. Dig up and eat as required; their taste will improve as the winter wears on.