(Pastinaca sativa) Parsnip is a northern European relative of the carrot that originated in the eastern Mediterranean. Just like carrots, it is a true biennial grown as an annual for its tasty roots. Before the adoption of sugar cane, these long white roots were grown as a sweetener. Parsnips don’t like hot weather, but they require a long season, thus they should be sown in early spring in most areas, some longer season areas can get away with a mid summer planting. Parsnip seed germinates best in cool weather, so direct seed in early spring (transplanting is never recommended for parnsip). Sow seeds 1/4-1/2 inch deep. Like carrots, they do not like to dry out while germinating, so keep them well watered. They should be planted in rich and very deeply worked soil much like a carrot bed, and they prefer loose, well-drained soil. Ideal germination is 55-75F. Seeds germinate in 14-21 days. Thin to 3 inches apart, in rows 18-24 inches apart. They may be stored in the garden all winter, or until the soil freezes. Be aware that parsnip foliage can have an irritating effect on some people. Avoid harvesting or excessively handling the foliage in the heat of the day and wash your hands thoroughly after touching the foliage, just to be safe.