Easy Ways To Grow, Use And Freeze Parsnips

This weekend I dug up my remaining parsnips at my allotment, as it is time to prepare the soil ready for my next crop.  The parsnips were a variety called ‘Gladiator’.


I must say I have been really pleased with this parsnip crop, as hardly any of them ‘forked’ in the ground and some of them were really quite large.  One of them in the above photo was sixteen inches long!

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This coming week I will be sowing more parsnip seeds ready for next winter.  I will be sowing a variety called ‘Hollow crown’, which I have also grown before.  The reason for my choice of variety is….they were cheap.


 I have tried various different methods of sowing parsnip seed, each with only limited success….

  • I tried filling trenches with compost and then sowing the seed.
  • I tried filling holes in the ground with compost and dropping seeds into them.
  • I have sown the parsnip seeds on wet tissue paper and the minute they germinated I used tweezers to carefully place the seeds where they were to grow outside.

The few parsnips that actually germinated would always ‘fork’….  until a few years ago I started to sow my seeds into kitchen roll tubes….


The photograph above shows the kitchen roll tubes that I used last year to grow the parsnips that I have just dug up.

I filled the kitchen roll tubes with compost and sowed three seeds in each.   I then tied some string around the tubes (just to stop them from falling over) and then kept the tubes on my windowsill in the warm.  As soon as the seeds germinated, I moved them outside into my coldframe and then a week later I planted the whole tube into the ground before the parsnip root showed at the bottom of the tube.


This way I now have straight parsnips nearly every time.


I have been asked in the past if this works with toilet rolls but it doesn’t.  The parsnip root is quite long by the time you actually see the little seed leaves emerge above the compost and unfortunately if the bottom of parsnip root touches anything hard (e.g. the seed tray at the bottom of the cardboard tube), it will cause the root to ‘fork’, so you won’t have straight roots.   However, as the kitchen roll is longer, the tap root has a longer distance to grow before it hits the bottom.

Below is a photograph of a parsnip seedling that I took out of the compost in a kitchen roll, on the first day its seed leaves emerged:


The root is 10cm long already and an average toilet roll is approximately 11cm, so if you use toilet rolls, very quickly the root will hit the bottom of the seed tray which will cause it to ‘fork’, so your parsnip will not be straight.


Last year I planted my seedlings out, just under three weeks after sowing the seeds.  You can see from the photograph below, how long the roots were when I planted them out.  The shorter tube (which I didn’t plant as I wanted to use it as a comparison), shows where the root reaches down to in the cardboard tube and the longer tube is there to show the length of an average kitchen roll tube, so you can compare the two together.  So you can see there is still a small amount of room for the root to grow down.


    I must admit it is hard work planting the tubes out as you need deep holes, but the compost in the tubes helps to stop the parsnip from ‘forking’ as the roots won’t hit any stones or lumps in the soil while they grow.


When I plant them I make sure that none of the cardboard tube is above the surface, or this will act like a wick and dry the compost out.

I think the hard work is worth it when you harvest lovely straight parsnips.




What will I do with so many parsnips?

  • Some of the parsnips I have already chopped up and frozen on trays (unblanched) and then I bagged them up ready for roasting straight from frozen  (I don’t bother to defrost them first).  By freezing them on trays first, the parsnips don’t stick together in the freezer bags and it’s easy to take out a few at a time and I love the covenience of having them ready to cook from my freezer.

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  • I will definately be using some of the parsnips to make parsnip crisps again, as my family loved them last time I made them.  You can find the recipe here.


  • I will definately also be making another big batch of spicy parsnip soup to freeze in portions ready to reheat and take to my allotment for lunch, as it’s one of my favourite soups.  You can find the recipe here too.


  •  And if I have any left I may treat myself to a parsnip cake.  You can find this recipe here .


….That’s if I get time in between everything else I need to do this week!


Just one last thing to make you laugh…this is the colour of my hand after I had been peeling and chopping all the parsnips to freeze yesterday and this was after I had washed it!  I wonder how long the parsnip stain will last?


Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time on Friday.


36 thoughts on “Easy Ways To Grow, Use And Freeze Parsnips

  1. Absolutely brilliant post – I have only ever grew parsnips once and they were tasty but not very long – I will be trying your kitchen roll method. Thanks for all the great advice.

  2. I have to say that I am not a blogger as I didn`t know how to do it, but this is so easy thank you! your site is brilliant thank you for being so down to earth and getting to the nitty gritty of stuff .I`ve grown/eaten/and preserved my stuff for years especially when my children were little, now I`ve got my garden back to full capacity it`s great cause I can grow more!!!!
    From Sharon in Lympstone Exmouth

      • Hi Green fingers thanks for reply
        I`ve got raspberry’s/blackcurrants/redcurrants/rhubarb/nearly 100 strawberry plants and have just put in runners and all beit a little late some broads, beetroots coming on and when the soils a bit warmer the salad crop will go in, also my quince tree/cherry/pear and apple trees are all nearly out in blossom they`re just breaking.. Have been given 5 different varieties of dahlia’s so will be putting them in soon to give a splash of colour. Have also just finished a batch of marmalade (from mamade tin!!)
        and lemon curd which I make myself in the microwave so much easier than the pan which is how I used to make it. Last year was a poor year for runners so hoping for a better year as I`ve got a waiting list for runner bean chutney!

      • LEMON CURD (microwave method)
        300g (11 oz) Caster sugar or 2 oz less for a sharper zing!
        finely grated rind of 4 unwaxed lemons or for lime curd use 5 limes and lime juice
        150 ml (1/4 pt ) lemon juice from above lemons or bottle
        100 g (4 oz) butter diced
        4 large eggs
        Put sugar/lemon rind/juice in big bowl (one that`ll fit in microwave and turn)
        Cook (750-850w) for 5 mins uncovered
        Remove bowl from micro-wave add butter and stir until melted
        In separate bowl whisk all eggs & gradually beat/stir well into lemon mixture
        Cook uncovered for 5-6 mins beating hard at the end of each 1 min
        When ready curd will be thick/shiny/glossy
        If not quite thick enough I have cooked it for up to 8-9 mins
        Then spoon into sterilised jars makes 2 1/2 jam jars but I normally double up sometimes to make more.
        I`ve made orange curd to but you need to use saville oranges for this to get a really good taste/flavour

      • Hi Greenfingers
        forgot to mention that sometimes you may get some pieces of white in the curd (from the cooked egg)
        just sieve into a wide topped jug and poor into jars, the curd is quite thick so you`ll have to use a scraper to get all the curd stuck to sides.
        I`ve got an old recipe for runner bean chutney as well.

  3. This is the most terrific blog full of wonderful advice and counsel. I have learned so much from you. I love your idea of starting the parsnips in the paper towel tubes. Brilliant. Thank you. Marion

  4. I must do the same. But the photos of the ones I dig will be very forked and hopefully before shots so I can show an improved version using your technique next spring!

  5. I’ve never grown parsnips. Love them roasted but not keen in soup.
    If I ever grow them I will definitely try your method.
    BTW how are you getting on in your lovely new kitchen?
    Best wishes,
    Angela (Devon)

  6. Wonderful parsnips, and a great tip on sowing them. I shall start saving kitchen roll tubes immediately! I’ve got some Gladiator seeds in my seed box that I haven’t tried yet, and I’m going to give them a go this year I think.

  7. Great parsnip blog..I.sowed direct seed last year in a specially prepared sandy bed in tunnel…they were so long I nearly broke my back trying to get them out.Have tried early germination on damp tissue this year with no success yet, so will wait til end of April and sow as I did last year!

  8. I adore parsnips but have had mixed luck growing them, great idea about the tubes from polyroll, brilliant post.

  9. Fantastic post! I don’t know if my parsnips are going to be allowed to come up before it gets too cold…the chooks are sort of live in the whole back yard kinda chooks at the moment on account of their yard only having two sides so far? And the like to scratch the garden every day, and ALL my seedlings have suffered :/

  10. Can’t wait to try the parsnip crisps, we occasionally treat ourselves to a bag of vegetable crisps that include carrots and beetroot too and they’re not cheap, being able to make our own will be great. Thanks Mrs T!

  11. Great post, I,ve just got an alottment and am hoping to grow something we can eat this year!. Have put my parsnip seeds into toilet rolls as we don’t use paper towels (too expensive), but I have taped the rolls together in two’s with tape which I believe degrades. Either that or they will be harvested with a ring round the middle lol It’s a bit fiddly to tape them together and not all toilet roll inners are the same size , so we will see if this works.

    • Lol I would have loved to see you taping them together and filling them with compost while holding them together….I really hope they work as you have gone to so much trouble…please remember to let me know how they turn out and if it works I’ll let everyone know for you on my blog

    • That’s what i’m here for and it’s a really good point that I didn’t mention. When you first see the seedlings emerge, very carefully pull out the excess ones, leaving just one seed to continue to grow. Try to do this as soon as you see them .

      Please ask me any questions that you want to as it’s hard when you grow something for the first time and there are always questions

  12. This sounds brilliant. Can’t wait to try it out. I shall stick two toilet roll inners together, as we get through more of those. Thank you 🙂

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