The Benefits of Growing Parsnips

Learn the art of growing parsnips and try some delectable parsnip recipes.

| March/April 1977

"Parsnips ... ugh!"

There's something about the very word "parsnip" that can shrivel the taste buds of a generation raised on TV dinners. And I'll admit that the way in which this root vegetable is traditionally served (boiled and buttered) seems to please more adult than juvenile palates.

But parsnips can be so much more! Soups and stews, for instance. French fries. Pancakes. Pies. Even flaming desserts! As I'll prove before this article is finished.

Growing Parsnips

Parsnips are a "full season" crop (the roots take about 130 days to reach full maturity) and do best when planted sometime between early spring and early summer. I like to put mine in my garden's border rows ... where they're out of the way as my family harvests faster-growing produce in the rest of the vegetable patch and sows second crops in its place.

Sprinkle your parsnip seeds out very thinly and about one-half inch deep in rows spaced two feet apart. Then, when the plants are three inches tall, thin them until they stand five inches from each other in the rows. (These are average "common sense" distances that should guarantee success for almost any first-time parsnip grower. I have, however, grown superior parsnips spaced only three inches apart in rows separated by just eighteen inches.)

The best parsnips are smooth-skinned and tender, and have a sweet flavor. And the keys to making yours grow up that way are rich soil, and ample and consistent moisture.

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