White Gem Parsnip
Below Standard Germination. The Federal Standard Germination rate for parsnips is 60% and our lab results came back as 51%. We've compensated by filling extra large packets (around 400 seeds) after removing about 20% of the lightest weight seed.
White Gem Parsnip is a 1970s selection of Offenham Market Parsnip, which was a new, well-respected variety in the early 1900’s. This variety is sweet, productive, canker-resistant, and can grow even in clay and shallow soils. Owen Taylor of Truelove Seeds selected this variety as a nod to his Irish and British ancestors, who relied on this crop for sustenance and also likely as a sweetener (as well as for wine and beer) before the widespread availability of honey and sugar. Parsnips grow wild in temperate Europe and western Asia, and its seeds have been found at Neolithic excavation sites in the foothills of the Alps. They have been grown throughout Europe since the Roman Empire. Carrots and parsnips (and often parsley root and skirret) were called the same names in medieval literature (basically: “root”). Parsnips are in countless Irish peasant recipes, and are known to be one of the few very important vegetables before the arrival of the Andean potato. This particular variety came to us from Irish Seed Savers Association, who work to conserve Ireland’s very special and threatened plant genetic resources. See William Woys Weaver’s new edition of Heirloom Vegetable Gardening and Wolf D. Storl’s A Curious History of Vegetables for more history on parsnips.
Days to maturity: 225-250: Harvest October-March as needed
Seeds per pack: ~400
Planting / harvesting notes
Sow 1/4-1/2 inch deep and thin to 6 inches apart in the row, and in rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Keep soil from drying out until leaves emerge. Harvest from October until March as needed. Tip: overwintered roots lifted in early spring (versus the fall) are sweeter! Caution: a small portion of the population can develop blisters and burns when parsnip juice touches their skin on sunny days. Consider working with this plant on cloudy days and washing your clothes and gloves well!
Seed keeping notes
Parsnips generally cross pollinate fairly easily within 1/2 mile of other flowering parsnips - consider isolating, caging, or bagging to prevent unwanted cross pollination between different varieties. Allow the spent parsnip flowers to ripen into plump green seeds, and then dry on the plant until the seeds have turned papery. Harvest umbel by umbel, or take the entire flower stalk as all attached seeds are dry. Allow seed heads to dry out further in a protected place with good ventilation and low humidity. Thwack the seed heads inside a bucket, or pull them off. Remove chaff and allow seeds to dry further on a paper bag or towel. Store in a screw-top jar.