I have eaten parsnip for quite awhile, off-and-on. Parsnips have a unique flavor that is a good addition to stews or baked mixed vegetables. I recently made a beef stew with potatoes, carrots, green beans, corn, cabbage and one parsnip. You get that little bite of surprise in your meal.
When roasted with other vegetables parsnips have a sweet taste. They are best when left in the ground until after a heavy frost, like carrots. I just throw a parsnip in a baking dish lightly greased with olive oil or coconut oil, add carrots, potatoes and maybe broccoli, then sprinkle a little olive oil on top and bake at 350 degrees until tender. Makes a quick, good tasting and healthy side dish.
I think the main reason I never grew parsnips before is due to the fact that they are slow to germinate and they grow all summer. The seed has maturity dates from 110 days to 120 days, that’s a long time.
Parsnips are grown much like carrots. They like a deep, fertile, loose soils. So, I think I will make a raised bed in the row I plant the seed into, after mixing deeply with lots of compost and maybe add some peat and sand to the soil.
Since, they take a long time to germinate, 3 weeks, I will need to keep the soil moist and keep it from crusting. Sometimes I put a heavy material strip right over the row to hold in moisture until the plants start to come up. That’s why I wish it was easier to find burlap. You used to buy feed in burlap bags, now they are all paper. It is heavy, holds moisture and, was, easy to find.
A board can be used to lay over the row to keep moisture, but you have to be on top of it when the seeds pop up. The board needs to be removed so the plants can grow.
The catalog said to plant early in the spring, but I think I will try a few in the spring and then wait until July to plant a second crop. That way, I can have a crop in late summer and again in late fall.
That will give some very sweet parsnips for stews this fall.
I hope this has wetted your appetite for some roasted parsnips or to try some in a stew. You can run down to your local organic food store and pick up a parsnip to give it a try, before you make the commitment to grow a crop all summer then not like the taste.
Steve Wisley has been gardening organically for over a quarter of a century. He started this blog to guide others in starting and improving their organic garden to produce healthy, nutritious, great tasting food for their family, too.