How to grow parsnips from seed

How to grow parsnips from seed

Delicious parsnips can be tricky to grow from seed. Follow our guide to speeding up the germination process.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
At its best
At its best

Plant is not at its best in January

Plant is at its best in February

Plant is at its best in March

Plant is not at its best in April

Plant is not at its best in May

Plant is not at its best in June

Plant is not at its best in July

Plant is not at its best in August

Plant is not at its best in September

Plant is not at its best in October

Plant is not at its best in November

Plant is not at its best in December

To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

Parsnips can take several weeks to germinate, but it’s possible to speed up the process. Follow our simple steps to pre-germinating parsnip seed to ensure bigger, more reliable yields, and look forward to parsnips roasted for the Christmas table, or in warming winter soups.

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You Will Need

  • Parsnip seed
  • Polythene bag
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Trowel
  • String

Step 1

Tipping parsnip seed on to compost
Tipping parsnip seed on to compost

Part-fill a polythene bag with moist, peat-free, multi-purpose compost and empty your seed packet onto the surface. There’s no point in successionally sowing parsnips as you don’t need to harvest them all in one go. What’s more, parsnip seed stays viable for only one year, so saving seed could lead to wasting it.

Step 2

Mixing parsnip seed with compost
Mixing parsnip seed with compost

Mix the seed and compost together so the seed is evenly distributed in the bag. Tie the top of the bag together and place in a dark, warm spot such as your airing cupboard. Leave for around four days.

Step 3

Parsnip seedlings
Parsnip seedlings

After around four days, remove the bag from the airing cupboard and check on your seeds. They should have germinated, and small seedlings will be poking out of the compost.

Step 4

Planting parsnip seedlings in soil
Planting parsnip seedlings in soil

Make a shallow trench in well-prepared soil with stones removed. Remove the seedlings from the bag and place them 10cm apart in the trench. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water with a watering can with a fine rose attached. The seedlings should continue to grow in their new growing positions.

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Sow seed in June for a crop of tender, baby parsnips at Christmas.

Seedlings. Photo: Getty Images.