Back on topic - Overwintering parsnips.
At least, it seems that most people can overwinter them even in zone 2/3. I read in the gardenweb forum of some really far north gardners who have self seeding beds of this divine root crop and I thought, is this possible for me? When would they flower. Would the seed grow fast enough to produce decent sized parsnips for harvest in the fall, or only in the spring. Would I be selecting for smaller parsnips? How many parsnips would I need to keep up sufficient variability in the genetic line? Will the garden plot get riddled with disease because it wasn't rotated? Questions, questions.
I think I stumbled across the answer of 6 parsnips as adequate genetic stock. I believe the source was Breed Your Own Vegetable Varities by Carol Deppe. However, I have to verify that.
Could I keep 6 parnsips aside for seeding reasons. Of course! Perhaps, an experiment is warranted... I feel an optimistic gardener warning coming on...
Parsnips in the foreground, mid-summer
Extra, extra, read all about it (or general info):
- Plant parsnips as soon as the ground can be worked
- Soil must be loose and without stones. A cheat way to plant is to take a crowbar and make a conical hole, fill with a mixture of peat moss and sand, or some other sifted light material.
- Parsnip seeds germinate poorly so always use fresh seed. It also germinates slowly so many people suggest marking the row or block with radish seeds.
- They taste better after a couple of heavy frosts as the starches are converted to sugars.
- You can store them in the ground over winter. I've never heard of someone mulching them first but I don't think it would hurt. Harvest as long as the ground is diggable and then first thing in the spring.
- You can store them in a root cellar as well.
- They are really tasty roasted, or in stews. We make root veggie pie out of them!