How to Harvest Parsnips

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Carrots can simply be plucked from the ground—but not parsnips.  If you do, you will end up breaking them.  If you can’t simply pull parsnips off the ground, how do you harvest them?  What’s the proper way to do it?

You can pull relatively small parsnips planted in light soil after you have loosened the soil around them.  To loosen the soil, you may use a spading fork or a regular spade.

Larger parsnips in heavy soil must individually be dug.  This is the only way you can harvest parsnips without actually breaking them.

When you’re digging the soil, make sure you are digging as deep as the end of the roots.  Once you’ve reached the bottom, loosen the soil around and pull lightly.  Dig deeper if you feel any heavy resistance.  Parsnip roots have a strong grip on the soil and you might break them if you force it.

Only harvest those that you need and leave the parsnips you won’t immediately use for future harvests.  Cover the hole where you took the parsnips out as the remaining roots can grow the next year.

Take off excess dirt from the roots if you are going to use them right away.  If not, leave the dirt clinging to the roots – exposing them to the air will cause the parsnip roots to shrivel.

The remaining tops can be used as a compost heap material so cut them off and save them.

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