QUESTION: I don’t have much space for a garden. Can you grow parsnips in containers? -Gina R.
Parsnips are a root vegetable related to carrots, delicious in recipes like hearty winter soups. When you don’t have much space outside, use containers to grow parsnips either indoors or on your porch.
While many vegetables and fruits can be grown in either containers or outside, many gardening experts caution against growing parsnips in pots. This is because the parsnip plant grows very long and large roots which a pot may not be able to hold. In addition, parsnips take a long time to mature and may grow even more slowly in unnatural conditions. If you have large enough pots and some patience, however, you can grow these plants indoors.
Use only fresh seeds, as seeds stored for long periods of time might have troubles sprouting. To loosen them, place the seeds in a wet towel overnight. In the morning, you will be able to place into peat blocks and wait for the seeds to sprout. Once the seedlings have reached the surface of the peat blocks, you can transplant them into soil.
Note that seedlings with strong root systems are the only ones that should be transplanted. Others should be thrown away or used as compost.
Thoroughly clean a large pot to rid it of organisms that could damage a growing plant. Keep one seed to each pot as the parsnips need a lot of room for root growth. If the roots of 2 plants tangle, they can strangle each other and die.
Plant the seed about a ½-inch from the surface, and then cover it with rich soil. The soil’s pH should be around 6.5. The pot should have a hole at the bottom to allow for proper draining of water. You might also line the bottom of the pot with small rocks before filling it with soil to provide more capability for drainage.
Watering the parsnip can be tricky when growing in a pot. You only want to water the parsnip enough to be damp, but not soaked. If you water too much, this can cause the plant to drown and suffocate. When the weather is dry, you might want to water more frequently, especially when the heat is used or air conditioning is running. In addition, you may want to use plant nutrients if you want more growth. However, since you only grow one plant at a time, the calculation of how much nutrient to use can be tricky, so it’s best to avoid it when you’re new to growing.
You will only yield one parsnip per seed and the time for the parsnip to grow can be quite long. The average time from planting to harvest is 180 days, so this is not a vegetable you will eat right away. But the parsnip is worth the wait.