I was prepping a row in my garden for potatoes yesterday. The adjacent row had been an abject failure last season. I planted parsnips early spring and didn't see anything growing during the season, so I just let the row get weedy and dismissed it. I was contemplating whether I would use the row this season and looking at all the tall weeds, when I notice a few green items. At first I thought they were Queen Anne's lace, which starts early around here. But then I saw that they were parsnips! One was looking pretty fat, so I dug it up, picture attached. I can't tell how fat the others are, but I was a bit shocked by this, considering I planted the seeds a year ago. I was wondering if this is normal for parsnips? I know they have a long time to maturity, but this one (and the others) somehow made it through NE Ohio winter intact.
Most everything I direct sow outside has volunteers germinate six months to a year later. My parsnips do that, so does my lettuce, carrots, beets, spinach, melons, parsley, cilantro, etc. The conditions weren't right for those individual seeds to germinate when sowed, and when conditions did become right, they sprouted.
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Second year parsnip. Perfectly normal in northern climes. You can eat them now, although woody. These will go to seed, much like second year onion also does.
In our area a lot of old timers would cover parsnips with straw or boughs to help protect these over wintering roots. They are notably sweet - to be savoured. and if you want seeds , just let them grow out. They should bolt about 1 july/ longest days.
They don't germinate easily, parsnip seeds, and very slowly. In a weedy spot they can easily get lost.
Letting them bolt is a good idea with parsnip, because then you can save a nice big pack of seeds and have enough to sow a bit thicker. The seeds don't last is what I've heard, and need to be used the following season. Look for a cleaner patch to sow them.
Your parsnip still looks very young, I'm not sure it would be woody, but I've never harvested a parsnip in this time of year.
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