Forum home Fruit & veg

Parsnips in France

This is my first time of growing veg in northern France. I assumed everything would be just a tad earlier than the uk. However, i have read a French lunar planting guide that suggests parsnips should be planted in December. Any thoughts please?



  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,625

    Every French person I ever spoke to about gardening and/or vegetable cookery denied all knowledge of the parsnip. They even denied knowing the French word for parsnip. When I showed one French man a parsnip in the greengrocer's shop he sniffed and said "food for beasts".

    I often cooked roast parsnips for my French gusts and they loved them.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • EnkayEnkay Posts: 17

    Theye are not common Panseyface, that's why I want to grow them. They are in large supermarkets but quite expensive. They are known as Le Panais. But, when to plant them?

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,625

    I generally work on intuition. Not always reliable, but generally so. I ask myself the question when would these seeds naturally begin to think about germinating? Not many seeds naturally start to sprout in December. If you don't sow seeds in autumn when the seedpods are ripening, the next natural time is in spring.

    However, I'm sure that there are parsnip experts out there who will come to your aid soon.image

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,210

    I can now get decent parsnips here, both normal and organic at decent prices.   The one year I grew them they were immense and woody in the middle before we got anything like cold enough to have the frosts supposedly needed to improve the taste so I haven't bothered since.   I don't know if it was the soil, the climate that year or the wrong kind of parsnip.

    Here is what the RHS advises - 

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • PalustrisPalustris Posts: 3,668

    And if you do not get the frost to sweeten them up, then dig them, cut them up into roasting size pieces , blanch lightly and freeze them. This has the same effect on their sweetness as a good frost.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    My Belgian lady-friend also discovered parsnips when she came here and couldn't find them at home, except rarely and expensively. Now, however, they're also available in Flanders at sensible prices.

    She's tried growing them but they were pathetic (though delicious), due chiefly, I suspect to awful soil.

    I've found growing conditions in Belgium (and northern France will be similar) to be the same as here, so sow them in the spring as soon as the soil is warm enough to let them get going.

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,210

    Excellent tip Berghill.  Thanks.   We're planning to move when OH retires and may end up on a parsnip free zone.

    Steve - Belgian soils vary widely and so do rain levels.   From what I've seen driving around, Flemish field crops tend to be leeks, carrots, beans, corn, beetroot.  They do hydroponc salads and toms and pepers in greenhouses and polytunnels.

    Round here it's all cereals and sweet corn in rotation with potatoes, sugar beet and chicons with mustard for a green manure.    Oil seed rape is becoming more prevalent and we still get flax in some fields but not as much as before.   

    Between here and north east Flanders there are acres and acres of espaliered apples and pears in what is known as the Hesbaye.  Further south around Wépion they are famous for their strawberries.


    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 16,769

    I live in Dordogne. I sow parsnip seeds in April and thin them out when they come up. They need extra water in dry summers. I harvest after the first frost as and when needed until about February/March. Sometimes they are funny shapes as the soil is a bit stony.

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • ItalophileItalophile Posts: 1,731

    Parsnips are unknown here in Italy. Strange, because in Roman times they were immensely popular. For some reason, they disappeared from the diet. There's a word for parsnip in Italian - pastinaca - but none of the locals have heard of it. I showed a neighbour the photo on a seed packet. She had never seen or heard of it. I gather they are grown in the north, around Parma, to feed to the pigs. I have to import seeds from the UK.

    I plant in April-May, keep well watered during the hot summers, and don't start to harvest before December, by which time the frosts have added some lovely sweetness.

  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 18,625

    Unloved and mostly unheard of in Spain too.image


    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
Sign In or Register to comment.