Harris Model Parsnip
A delight of late winter and early spring.
Parsnips are rewarding--primarily because they are at their best when the garden is at its meekest. From late February until mid-April, whenever the ground is unfrozen, head to your garden to unearth big, sweet parsnip roots to eat. Or, if you leave a few well-spaced parsnips in the ground to flower, they will make quite a cheery show in early spring: the tall 4-6 foot stalks have masses of yellow umbels that attract a buzzing diversity of native pollinators and beneficial garden insects. Parsnips are unbeatable roasted, and--mashed and whipped into your favorite muffin recipe--they make terrific baked goods. They do occupy garden space the whole season long, but they are delightfully free of troubles. Just plant them, weed a few times when young.
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When growing parsnips, choose a well worked, weed free section of the garden. Cultivate it well, as soon as the soil is workable in early spring, before seeding parsnips in rows. Parsnips can take up to 2 weeks to germinate, so take care to keep them watered during this period and do not disturb the soil by weeding it. Once parsnips have sprouted, let the true leaves form and then thin them to 4" apart. Parsnips grow very slowly, so be patient and keep them watered and weeded for big, healthy roots.
Some people are allergic to parsnip leaves, which can cause a blistering rash on the skin. When working in your parsnip patch, especially on sunny days, wear long-sleeves, gloves and pants, and wash skin with a good soap right afterwards.
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|Full to Partial Sun