Harris Model Parsnips
Seed Count: Approx. 400 seeds
Days to Maturity: 100-120 Days
Description: Harris Model is one of the easiest parsnip varieties to clean, due to its nice smooth skin. Its actually the smoothest, whitest heirloom parsnip variety! The 10-12" long, bright white roots are slim in shape, with shoulders about 3 inches wide, and grow perfectly straight, with flavor that is slightly sweet and nutty. Its fine grained, tender flesh is definitely unique in taste and should be a staple in any garden. Enjoy them baked, roasted, broiled, mashed, or even pureed into soup! Parsnips grow similarly to carrots, but require a longer growing period. They do not handle summer heat, or drought well. While parsnips are technically a biennial, they are usually grown as an annual root crop. It is important to note that parsnip seeds aren't always the easiest to germinate. They can take a long time to germinate, and have low germination rates.
How To Grow
Sowing: To sow, wait until soil is workable, however, it is best to wait until soil temperatures warm up to around 50 degrees. If the soil is too cold, the seeds my rot before they can germinate. Deeply work your soil, about 1 ft. or more, so your roots can grow with ease. Rich, loamy soils work best for growing root veggies. Rocky dense soils will result in misshaped roots. Seeds can take up to a month to germinate, and don't have the best germination rates, so sowing a second batch of seeds a couple weeks after you sowed the first set can increase germination success. They also will not sprout, and will not be able to break through, if the soil stays too dry, so make sure to keep the soil moist, but not so moist that your seeds will rot. You can also pre-soak your seeds for 24 hours before sowing them. Make sure to choose a sunny location and direct sow your seeds about 1/2" apart, and 1/2" deep. It is best to direct sow root crops, as transplanting them can result in deformed roots.
Growing: When the seedlings reach 2" high, gently thin them about 6" apart. The farther apart they are, the more space your parsnips will have to grow. When the tops of the carrots begin to emerge from the soil, cover them with mulch to keep them tender. Do not allow the soil to dry out, while they can handle some dryness, you should keep them watered, especially during extremely dry weather. Roots go where there is water, so watering deeply, and giving them a good soak, ensures strong rot growth. Shallow watering will result in weak roots, that are even more susceptible to drought. A lack of water can also cause the roots to rot at the crown. Parsnips are slow growing, so it is important to keep weeds under control to prevent the young parsnips from having to compete for nutrients and water. Once your plants are established the rest is easy, and caring for them is just like caring for carrots. Since parsnips are slow to mature, you can plant faster maturing crops like radishes as a row marker. You can also enjoy benefits by companion planting with aromatic herbs or onions and garlic; this will repel the carrot fly and its maggots. They also do well with potatoes, peppers, bush beans, and peas. Pests are relatively mild, however, swallowtail caterpillars do like to munch on the leaves, and can be a nuisance. You can grow some dill, fennel, or parsley to move them onto instead, or simply pick them off. Aphids are also a common pest that can be blasted off with a hose, or you can you apply an organic insecticide.
Harvesting: Make sure to properly loosen the soil before harvesting, since parsnips can break easily, while being pulled from the ground. Also, be careful with the skins and the leaves; they've been known to give people rashes during harvest. Parsnips are ready to harvest once the leaves start dying back, or when the heads reach at least 3/4" in diameter. However, if you wait to harvest your parsnips in the fall, after a hard frost, you will have a bounty of sweeter roots! You can continue to harvest your parsnips throughout the fall and winter, as long as the ground isn't frozen. They can even be overwintered in the ground. Just give your plants a good mulching, and harvest your roots when the ground has thawed. Make sure to do so before they push out new leaves. Once they do, the roots become fibrous and tough. Parsnips must over winter in order to produce seeds. Once the plant flowers, make sure to keep an eye on the seed heads, as they'll burst as soon as they're dry. You can just tie mesh bags around them in order to prevent seed lost. Once the seed heads are brown and dry, cut them off and allow them to fully dry inside. Clean to remove as much chaff as possible, then store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. After 1 year, germination rates severely decrease.