Perfect parsnips vs wonky parsnips

Part of the fun of growing your own is seeing the weird and wonderful shapes that appear when you pull up parsnips (and carrots). But if you’d rather see beautifully shaped roots, then this is what you’ll need to do next time…

  1. Deep, sandy soil with good drainage is the best for parsnips. If your soil is heavy or clay-like then you can still grow good parsnips, you’ll just need to dig it over really well.
  2. The soil should be deeply cultivated, stone free and well raked before planting. Too many stones or lumps get in the way of the roots and cause them to split.
  3. The further apart you plant your parsnips, the bigger the roots. If you want large roots then a 20cm spacing will be good, for a slightly smaller parsnip go for 10-15cm apart.
  4. Don’t overwater parsnips, but try to keep the soil evenly moist. Too much water can discourage the parsnips from putting down nice, deep roots, but you don’t want to starve them of water either as their roots will split if they get too dry. The best advice is to water well during dry spells but otherwise leave them to mother nature.
  5. Hand weed in and around rows of parsnips to avoid damage to the roots.
  6. Don’t over fertilise the soil as the parsnip is growing. Digging in a little compost before planting is fine, but they tend to get a little carried away if you add a liquid feed or fresh manure.