Parsnip Tender and True
Parsnips do take up quite a bit of space in the veg plot for a long period of time, so they're best suited to larger plots.
Tender and True is our favourite variety. It was created way back in 1897, and remains hugely popular today for its refined quality, smooth white flesh and long roots.
Time from seed to plate: 24 weeks
Parsnip seeds need to be sown direct in the ground. Work the soil in the area where you're going to sow until it's loose and crumbly. Then stretch out a taut length of string along your veg bed. Run a trowel, or corner of a rake along the string to create a shallow drill about half an inch deep. Now sprinkle in seeds leaving about half an inch between them. Firm back the soil and water.
A six to twelve foot row of parsnips will give you a very worthwhile crop.
Once seedlings have established themselves - 6-8 weeks later - thin them out to leave 3-4 inches between plants.
If all goes to plan, and each parsnip swells to 3 inches in diameter you'll have a row packed with delicious roots!
Don't be in a hurry to harvest your parsnips. They'll sit contentedly in the ground through the winter until you need them. The winter frosts will actually improve their flavour by converting the stored starches into sugars that will caramelise beautifully on roasting.
Clear away any dead leaves that have been killed off by frosts if you want your plot to look tidy, this won't affect the roots underneath.