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Growing carrots and parsnips in home gardens

A quick guide to carrots and parsnips

  • Carrots and parsnips grow best in sandy loam soil.
  • Always plant seeds directly into your garden. Never start them in pots.
  • The seeds can take up to three weeks to germinate.
  • Thin out seedlings to allow room for the roots to develop.
  • These vegetables may be bitter, tough, misshapen and undersized if they don't get enough water.
  • You can harvest carrots any time they reach a usable size.
  • Leave parsnips in the ground until late fall, or even early spring. 

Carrots (Daucus carota var. sativa) and parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) are root vegetables that are staples of Minnesota home gardens.

Gardeners choose carrot varieties based on their different characteristics. There are carrots that are best for long storage, carrots with great fresh crunch and carrots that are better for cooking. Some are long and thin. Some are short and squat.

Most parsnip varieties grow quite long, and they taper from a thick top to a narrow end. Shallow, heavy or rocky soils are not good for growing parsnips. If your garden has deep, sandy, loam soil, you should be able to grow a satisfying crop of parsnips.

Soil pH and fertility

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Selecting plants

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Planting

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How to keep your carrots and parsnips healthy and productive

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Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2018

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