In the East and North, this root vegetable can be left in the ground all winter and dug up as needed for cooking. Freezing seems to improve the texture and gives parsnips a sweeter, more delicate taste. In southern and western states where winters are mild, parsnips should be planted in fall and grown for a winter crop, because spring planting extends the warm growing season too long, making the parsnips woody and tasteless.
Parsnip Planting and Culture
Since parsnip is a long-season crop, seed should be sown as early in spring as possible. Fresh seed should be secured each year. Slow to germinate, the seed should be soaked overnight before being planted out in a rich, deeply spaded, light soil. A generous amount of compost or some other humus should be added to enrich them and to provide good aeration and uniform distribution.
Plant the seed thickly in rows, inches apart. Radish seed should be alongside to mark the rows and keep the crust from hardening. It is wise to mulch the planting as the soil must remain cool during the long germination period seed are in danger of drying out.
As the radishes become of edible size, pick them and weed and thin the parsnip seedlings six inches apart. Cultivate cleanly all until the foliage touches between the rows.
Parsnips may be harvested when the ground has little else to offer may remain in the ground over winter dug up during a thaw, or they may bed just before the ground freezes harden stored in a root cellar for winter use. In the ground until spring, dig as needed to new tops start to grow; then dig all rain and store them in a cold place to sprouting. After the growth, the roots lose flavor and soon become lean and limp as well as tough and stringy.