Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The parsnip is a root vegetable related to the carrot, which it resembles, although it has a paler color and a stronger flavor. Like carrots, parsnips are native to Europe and have been eaten since ancient times. Indeed, until the potato arrived from the New World its place in dishes was occupied by the parsnip. Parsnips can be boiled, roasted or used in stews, soups and casseroles.
Parsnips are not grown in warm climates, since frost is necessary to develop their flavor. The parsnip is a favorite with gardeners in areas with short growing seasons. Sandy, loamy soil is preferred; silty, clay, and rocky soils are unsuitable as they produce short forked roots.
Seeds can be planted in early spring, as soon as the ground can be worked. February is the traditional month for sowing (in the Northern hemisphere) although it is better to wait until March when the ground has warmed. Harvesting can begin in late fall, after the first frost, and continued through winter, up until the ground freezes over.
More than almost any other vegetable seed, parsnip seed deteriorates in viability greatly if stored for long, so it is advisable to use fresh seed each year.
When picking wild vegetables, be aware that poison hemlock can easily be mistaken for parsnip, with tragic results.
- Dr D.G.Hessayon (2003)"The Vegetable & Herb Expert". Expert Books. ISBN 0-903-50546-0
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