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Parsnip Greens?

August 24, 2014

I decided to try to grow some parsnips this summer and in hindsight, I have no idea why.

I can’t say that I can remember ever even tasting a parsnip or a dish that included parsnip as an ingredient. Hopefully I like them; I guess that in a worst case I will adapt and find some tolerable dish or soup that includes them.

Anyway…. I learned that these need a long growing season and managed to get some seedlings out of the ground by early May. I also learned that it is best to wait until the first freeze to harvest, so by my calculation these would have something in the range of a 26 week growing season, a modest 10 weeks more that the recommended minimum of 16 weeks. (Hopefully there isn’t an issue with having too long a season; I suppose I’ll learn towards the end of October.)

OK on to the greens…

My expectation was that these would put up greens similar to what I have become accustomed to with the handful of carrot varieties I’ve grown over the years. The carrots all had fairly delicate leaves on stems that reached at most 12 or 16 inches above the soil line. By comparison the parsnip greens are colossal; the top of them come just beyond my belt line:

Parsnip Greens

Parsnip Greens

A friend asked me a while back if the greens were poisonous; she indicated that she’d heard they could raise blisters on some people similar to those caused by poison ivy. I had never heard this and didn’t think about it again until this afternoon… So I asked professor Google and yes, it seems some people are extremely sensitive to some types of parsnip greens.
As best I could gather from the scattered articles on the subject (most with graphic pictures), wild parsnips tended to be the culprit more so than most garden varieties.
I was up to my elbows in the greens this afternoon checking a few of the root tops for girth and thus far I haven’t blistered or raised any sort of rash on my forearms, so perhaps my tiny square of parsnip greens are not toxic.

If you are curious about the sort of blistering some people have suffered click here or in a more detailed description of wild parsnip issues click here.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. August 25, 2014 2:35 am

    Never heard of such reactions to parsley, so thank you for the heads-up. In Europe, parsley is commonly used, from East to West and North to South. As a child I didn’t like it much, but now we often roast it like you would carrots and potatoes and serve it alongside roast meats. Even better ‘glazed’ with a bit of sugar. (recipe: )
    The stalks and leaves are used to add flavour to soups or pickles. Also, from what I can see in the pic, you might have them too close together, as a decent sized parsley could easily reach 2 inches in diameter. πŸ™‚

    • August 25, 2014 5:52 am

      Yes I agree on the spacing; as the tops grew I expected these were a bit close, but the uneven germination left me with what I have.
      I assume that what we call parsnips are sometimes called “parsley” over there? When I hear parsley I think of the flat leaf Italian parsley grown as a garnish and herb. Thanks for the input and recipe. πŸ™‚

  2. Brent Eamer permalink
    August 25, 2014 4:47 am

    I grow parsnip every year up here in Prince Edward Island Bruce. I get them in the ground around May 20th, the seeds take a long time to germinate, sometimes three weeks. I make curried parsnip soup or I roast them, much like carrots. They have a strong flavour so only one in a soup or a stew should suffice. I love them

    • August 25, 2014 5:57 am

      Thanks. I’ve never heard anyone say they don’t like them; mainly down here I don’t hear anyone even even mention them. That’s sort of how my garden vegetable selection tends to work; apparently I have to have at least 1 or 2 things unusual or unique each year.

  3. Margaret permalink
    August 25, 2014 8:14 am

    Parsnips are delicious when prepared the same as creamed potatoes. Enjoy!

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