Parnsips are a very easy to grow root vegetable, the parsnip plant is biennial which means that it will produce seeds in its second year, but there is a way that we can grow some parsnip seeds in a single year of planting, more about that later.
So what is the point of growing your own parsnip seeds when you can buy a packed of seeds for the same price as a few organic parsnips? Parsnip seeds can be difficult to store, and even when stored well they have a low germination rate, many growers will start their parsnips on trays of damp paper towel and transfer seeds that germinate to pots before transplanting outside. If you grow your own seed then the low germination rate ceases to be a problem, if you have 2 thousand seeds it does not matter if only 25% grow -- although you should have a higher success rate than that. Having more seeds means that you can plant the seeds closer together which will help to supress weeds and then thin out as required. The thinned out parsnips can be roasted whole as baby parsnips.
Growing your own seeds means that we can solve the storage problem by storing the seeds in the ground, the way nature intended. I plant half of my seeds in the ground where the crop will grow the following year and dry and save the over half of the seeds in brown paper pags, just in case there is a problem with the seeds that have been left outside.
So how do we get our parnsip plants to produce seed? We just leave them in the ground for a second year! The plants will grow to approximately 2 metres high, and each plant will produce at least 250 seeds. If you have a hot summer or autumn the seeds will dry on the plant, just cut the flower heads off put them all in a large paper bag and scrunch or shake. If your seeds are not dry outside then cut the plants down at the base and hang upside down in a shed until they are dry.
The best plants to grow seed from are the heirloom varieties such as Harris Model, Guernsey Half Long , Hollow Crown, All American, Tender and True, White Gem, and Hamburg Half Long. Avoid F1 Hybrids to ensure consistent size and flavor.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about growing your own organic, open polanated, untreated parsnip seeds.
If you want to grow your own parsnips seeds in one year you will have to buy a bag of organic parsnips cut 1 cm of the thick end of each parnsip and wait place on a saucer of water, after a few days the parnsip should sprout some leaves, when this happens change the water in the saucer and leave for a few more days, prepare a small plant pot for each plant pot and transfer your plants to the pots making sure that the top of the parnsip is just below the level of the compost. When the roots have filled the pot transplant to the garden. If you start this process in January, you should have the plants in the garden by March/April and the seeds should be ready by August/September. If you get lucky you might find a small parnsip on the root of the plant!
Try to use organic parsnips if you are growing seeds this way, but remember that just because a parsnip is organic it could still be an F1 hybrid.
Parsnips seeds take a few weeks to germinate, but they grow quikly and small parsnip plants are easy to identify.
Water parsnips often in when there is little rain to ensure a good crop.
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