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Parsnip

The parsnip is adapted to culture over a wide portion of the United States. It must have warm soil and weather at planting time, but does not thrive in midsummer in the South. In many parts of the South parsnips are grown and used during early summer. They should not reach maturity during midsummer, however. Furthermore, it is difficult to obtain good germination in the summer, which limits their culture during the autumn.

Any deep, fertile soil will grow parsnips, but light, friable soil, with no tendency to bake, is best. Stony or lumpy soils are objectionable; they may cause rough, prongy roots.

Parsnip seed must be fresh�not more than a year old-and it is well to sow rather thickly and thin to about 3 inches apart. Parsnips germinate slowly, but it is possible to hasten germination by covering the seed with leaf mold, sand, a mixture of sifted coal ashes and soil, peat, or some similar material that will not bake. Rolling a light soil over the row or trampling it firmly after seeding usually hastens and improves germination.

Parsnips may be dug and stored in a cellar or pit or left in the ground until used. Roots placed in cold storage gain in quality faster than those left in the ground, and freezing in the ground in winter improves the quality.

There is no basis for the belief that parsnips that remain in the ground over winter and start growth in the spring are poisonous. All reported cases of poisoning from eating so called wild parsnips have been traced to water hemlock (Cicuta), which belongs to the same family and resembles the parsnip somewhat.

Be very careful in gathering wild plants that look like the parsnip.

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