Parsnip Germination Tip from John Harrison Getting parsnips to germinate is one of those black arts. They're best sown directly because if there is disturbance to the main root by transplanting the chances are they end up looking like some alien monster with many forked roots. Yet starting them indoors in root-trainers or toilet roll inners gives much better germination than outdoors. Once they start growing that main root grows really quickly – easy to leave it too long before planting. However, I may have the answer. A market gardener says to sow the seeds in paper pots which are kept in a propagator at 17ºC for 7 days. 17ºC soil temperature is the ideal for germinating parsnips. Then plant out the pots whether you can see any germination or not. He reckons this gets them going whilst avoiding forked roots and he has great results. I'll give it a go and report on how I do.