I'm just about to plant my parsnips which I raised from seed in pots.
Last year I used a long iron bar to make a deep shaft in the soil about a metre deep and 15 cm wide I filled this hole with sifted soil so it was completely stone free. I did this for each plant. I then planted the parsnip seedling in the soil at the top.
In December expecting huge long parsnips all I got was malformed ball shaped parsnips with roots spreading in all directions. What could have gone wrong? As I say the soil was totally stone free? Other people don't make these shafts they just plant them in the soil regardless of removing stones and sifting soil and still get great normal shaped long parsnips.
Parsnip variety is Javelin.
My soil is a deep free draining loam with compost added in early February.
I may be wrong, but it might be because you started them in pots. Root veg don't like being disturbed which is why the books say to sow direct.
Apparently you can grow carrots in root trainers (tall bottomless pots), I am not sure about parsnips.
Its never wise to try grow root veg in pots as they do not like their roots disturbed at all. I grew my parsnips in a similar way to yours last year apart from the sowing of the seed in the pots.
I did the same process of creating a nice deep hole in the ground and filling it with a mix of sieved compost, top soil and mix of high phosphorus feed.
What I did differently then was that I chitted the parsnip seed in a plastic tub on damp blotting paper. When the seed started to germinate I carefully pricked them out with tweezers and sowed them 1cm down in the prepared areas.
I ended up with monster parsnips one that had a diameter of 25cm and a length of just short of 30cm before the thin end of the root.
I also found chitting them resulted in a higher rate of success on the plot as a whole and have done the same this year with approx. 90% success in growth again
Looks like we are going to start from scratch. When is the best time of year to plant parsnips?
Outdoors in prepared bed late Feb or March depending on where you are in the country (if memory serves me right that's Coventry?) Parsnips do not like very warm conditions so it's probably too late to sow now to get good results. Neither do they like freshly manured ground as that will cause the roots to fork. Ref the toilet roll centres Logan, I use them to start the seeds off in the GH and plant them out before they reach the bottom of the tube: they will then continue to grow unchecked in their final positions which can be prepared using sifted soil etc to fill tapered holes.