Real Men Sow

Can I Grow Parsnips in Containers?

can I grow parsnips like this in a container?My parsnips are eternally rubbish. I grew one good ‘snip this year, the rest came up short and very stubby. As these are one of my favourite vegetables, both for their sweet taste and smell, I’ve decided this cannot go on.

So I’ve turned to the power of the Internet. That’s you, by the way. All you growers who are no doubt a lot better than me.

Suggestions so far are that maybe my soil is too rich, and the parsnips can’t be bothered to grow down in search of water and nutrients, or that my ground is too stony.

I’ve tried growing all over the plot, and I’ve also sown the seeds in little half toilet roll ‘modules’ (my work colleagues were confused to see me coming out of different facilities with empty rolls in my hands, but hey) before planting on.

One tip I’m looking to explore came from solway cropper, on the Grow Your Own forums. ‘Because my soil is derived from boulder clay it is full of stones, so I stopped trying to grow decent parsnips in it years ago,’ he posted. ‘Now I grow them in an assortment of pots, and 1kg of parsnips per bucket is a fairly typical yield’.

(He has a picture to prove it, too…)

This sounds perfect, especially since I have complete control of the soil that goes in to the pots. And because my friendly local florist has agreed to provide me with florist buckets if I keep her in jam this year.

So, lovely people, does this sound a good idea? My research tells me that parsnips should be planted 15cm away from each other, and germinate at 7 oC. By growing in pots, does this mean that the soil will warm up quicker?

I’ve had terrible trouble getting the blighters to germinate in the past – does anyone have any tips to get the seeds going?

Any other advice out there? My near neighbour has just ripped their bathtub out, and I’ve heard they’re super for growing…

Should I be knocking on their door??

Your thoughts are very much appreciated.

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  1. Carl LeggeJanuary 29, 2011 at 9:21 amReply

    Hi Jono

    As far as I am aware, the seed needs to be very fresh to germinate properly and you need to wait for the soil temp to be right. We were trying to get fresh seed by saving our own from last year’s rubbish crop. Unfortunately, the mice have eaten the ‘snips from underneath. Next year I might lift and pot them up to save them for seed.

    The current Kitchen Garden magazine has an article on them. Their expert suggests making holes in the ground for the snips and filling them with multi-purpose compost before sowing to give the snips an easier route.

    Hope this helps and good luck. I’ll update my blog with my own efforts as the year evolves.



  2. Jono

    JonoJanuary 29, 2011 at 9:42 amReplyAuthor

    Thanks Carl!

    I’ve read that growers should buy new seeds every year, so will make sure I do that.

    I like the idea of making holes and filling with compost. Anyone else tried that?

    Thanks for the Kitchen Garden tip off, I’ll check that out too.

  3. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » Chitting Parsnip Seeds Like ‘The Woman Who Does My Feet’.March 30, 2011 at 8:37 pmReply

    [...] As I’ve confessed before, I’m rubbish at growing parsnips. [...]

  4. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » What is it With Spring Onions?June 8, 2011 at 6:00 pmReply

    [...] are other veg that I struggle with, such as parsnips and runner beans, but I have managed to cultivate a few decent specimens in the past. However, in [...]

  5. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » Parsnip Update: chitting, old seeds versus new, and growing in florist buckets.July 12, 2011 at 6:58 amReply

    [...] Back in January, I grumbled about my inability to grow good parsnips. My frustrations were compounded by my mum, freshly kitted out with her first mobile phone, sending me text pictures of her grand parsnip crops. [...]

  6. Yorkshire KenApril 25, 2013 at 7:42 amReply

    I have heard that to put the seeds in the freezer for five to seven days prior to sowing will aid the germination.

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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