The Parsnip Project (3)

Whenever I mention I’m attempting to grow parsnips here in Abruzzo, it seems the professionals come out of the woodwork. So far I’ve been advised:

1. The reason they don’t grow here is because the earth is too stony and the roots split. I find this difficult to believe considering they grow beetroot and carrots without too many problems.

2. The Italian’s don’t grow parsnips because they take such a long time to mature and they’d rather use the land for faster more productive crops. This I can half-believe, but the orto’s around here are filled with maturing fennel for such a long time that it negates this argument.


3. Parsnips don’t grow in Italy and this is apparent by there being no traditional recipes that contain them. I agree with the lack of parsnip related recipes, I can honestly say that I have never come across a Piemontese parsnip pesto or a Calabrian chilli and parsnip sugo, but that doesn’t mean the vegetable wont grow here. The growing conditions in middle and northern Italy are ideal for parsnip growing; I do wonder if further south it may be too dry and hot. This said though, I can hardly see the seed sitting below ground and vehemently denying to germinate just because the soil surrounding it is Italian.

So I now have my two newly painted black, half oil drums in situ on the orto in readiness for filling and eventually planting up should my parsnips germinate. The other barrel has three potato plants I have chitted from a Alfred Bartlett potato I smuggled into the country from the UK during my recent trip over.


Should the toilet roll method fail, I have enough seeds to do a second sowing direct into the barrel at a later stage.

5 thoughts on “The Parsnip Project (3)

  1. I’ve been following ‘the parsnip project’ with interest even though we haven’t got much of a garden over in our tiny Italian house, certainly not enough for veg. I presumed parsnips weren’t found anywhere so was surprised to see, whilst sitting outside a bar sipping a cool beer (as you do) a stand of seeds for sale. Amongst said seeds were 3 types of parsnips! Now I wasn’t sharp enough to register this at the time (it wasn’t the first beer) so didn’t investigate further what variety they were so maybe parsnips are grown in Italy. This was in Coreglia Antelmineli, Lucca area. Going over again in 10 days so will have another look although ‘seed season’ may have finished by then. Got me thinking……

    • That’s interesting Jan, a friend in Piemonte ships his stash over and tells me the Italian’s in his family love them. I have a Calabrese friend who told me he never heard of them before he came to England.

  2. I’m really interested to hear how you get on with your parsnips, I’d like to introduce them to our orto when we get it up n running… I did a lot of research to understand how come it wasn’t common here…

    • I hope this project works as I do enjoy fresh parsnips, I find some shop bought ones can be woody. They’re such erratic when it comes to germination and so slow I’m finding I check them every day in hope of find a host of green shoots.

  3. Swede is also not common here…someone told me because they are bitter, but even that argument fails when you think of other popular italian food/drink. Maybe it’s because of that we often mash with carrots!

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