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University of Minnesota Extension

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.

Person holding harvested carrots

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


Selecting plants




How to keep your carrots and parsnips healthy and productive


Managing pests, diseases, and disorders

Many things can affect carrot and parsnip roots and leaves. Changes in physical appearance and plant health can be caused by the environment, plant diseases, insects and wildlife. In order to address what you’re seeing, it is important to make a correct diagnosis.

You can find additional help identifying common pest problems by using the online diagnostic tools or by sending a sample to the UMN Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic. You can use Ask a Master Gardener to share pictures and get input.


Authors: Marissa Schuh, integrated pest management extension educator, and Jill MacKenzie

Reviewed in 2022

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