Parsnips are a vegetable that can be used straight from the garden when most vegetables have been destroyed by frost. In fact a couple frosts are essential to give the parsnip its sweet taste.
Because they are a long season crop, Parsnips should be planted in the early spring in colder climates and in late fall in more temperate climates. Their seed vitality is short and germination is weak so the freshest seed should be used. The seeds also take up to a month to germinate so you can often plant a catch crop such as radishes where parsnips are planted to keep dirt loose and mark your rows until the seedlings sprout. Like with all long root crops make sure the soil is deep and fertile. But be sure not to add fresh compost as too much nitrogen can make the roots fork. Water evenly at the rate of about an inch a week to ensure a tender root. You need not harvest all of your parsnips when the first frost hits. Parsnips can safely be left in the ground throughout the winter in colder climates and harvested when needed. Just be sure to harvest all of them before they begin to sprout in the spring as the taste will diminish and the texture will be lost.