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Parsnips

Parsnips are biennial and can easily overwinter because they are hardy plants. In the first year sow them as you would for eating. To avoid cross pollination it is best to stick to growing one variety. In the autumn, remove any diseased or damaged plants. You need to select around eighteen healthy plants to save seed from to maintain the genetic diversity. The following spring the plants produce very tall flower stalks and can be over 2 metres in height. They will need staking and tied in to prevent the wind from breaking the flower stalks.

The seed will ripen during late summer and it will be the top ‘primary’ umbel on the plant that will ripen first. Parsnip seed does tend to shatter easily so remove into a paper bag as the seed turns brown. Or remove by cutting whole flower stems as soon as you see the majority of those seeds are ripened. Allow these flower stems to dry off in a dry airy place on trays. The best vigorous seed is normally found on the ‘primary’ umbels as opposed to the ‘secondary’ umbels. More information on seed drying can be found under our section ‘Seed Cleaning and Drying’ on our website.