UK gardening help and assistance


Grow vegetables from seeds
Parsnips to Radishes

This is a very rough guide to growing Parsnip, Pea, Potato, Pumpkin and Radish from seeds in the UK, but even within the UK, the climate varies, so due allowance must be made for local conditions.

As well as variations in climate, there are also numerous different named varieties of the different vegetables - always read the seed packet for detailed guidance for particular varieties.

When sowing seeds, always mark the line of seeds to show the position and label the rows so that when the seedlings come up, you know what they are.

Terms used below:

Drill - a shallow depression into the bottom of which seed is sown - normally formed by pulling a hoe or a gardening trowel (backwards) through the surface of a prepared bed. Drills are used where the planting depth is relatively shallow and seeds are planted close together. Once the seeds have been sown, they are covered by pulling a hoe over the surface of the bed to fill the drills.

Seed bed - a specific area of the garden where seeds are sown for germination and later the seedlings are 'planted out' to other areas. The area is normally level and with a fine soil, this helps the young plants to grow and makes it easy to lift the plants for planting out.


Where to sow Outdoors in open ground - for long, straight Parsnips, the bed needs to have been deep dug and free of stones.


Site/Soil Grows in most well (deep) dug soils. Preferably manured for previous crop, do not plant or sow on freshly manured bed. Lime if acid.


Sowing time March


How to sow Sow the parsnip seeds into 1.2cm (½ inch) deep drills, about three parsnip seeds every 15cm (6 inches) with rows about 30cm (12 inch) apart.

Once the parsnip seeds have germinated and shots are visible, thin out to one parsnip seedling per position - discard the thinnings.


Time from sowing to harvest 34 weeks



To store To store late cropping parsnips, lift the crop, cut off the foliage and store in dry sand with the parsnips not touching each other on trays in a dark, cool (frost free) place.

In mild areas where the soil is not susceptible to water-logging, the foliage can be cut off and the parsnips can be left in the ground provided they are protected from frost.



Where to sow Outdoors in open ground


Site/Soil Open site, light shade tolerated in Summer.

Well drained, but moisture retentive, deeply dug soil essential. Preferably manured the previous Autumn, or dig a trench and heavy manure lower spit.


Sowing time For May/June crop - late February/early March - under cloches

For June/July crop - late March/early April

For August crop - late April/early May

For Autumn crop - late June/early July


How to sow and after care Dig small trenches, 15cm (6 inches) wide, 5cm (2 inches) deep and spaced the expected height of the particular pea variety being grown - this will typically be 60 to 90cm (2 to 3 ft) apart for short varieties, or 1.5 to 1.8 metres (5 to 6 feet) apart for tall varieties

Press the pea seeds into the bottom of the drills in two rows along each side of each drill with about 7.5cm (3 inches) between seeds - stagger the pea seeds in the rows. Cover the seeds.

Support of the pea plants depends on the variety of pea being grown, with dwarf pea varieties (upto 45cm (18 inches) high), no support is normally required. For tall growing pea varieties, strong support is required. Where support is necessary, this should be introduced when the pea seedlings are about 7.5cm (3 inches) high.


Time from sowing to harvest 12 to 16 weeks

Potatoes - see this other page

Pumpkin - see 'Marrow, Courgette, Squash and Pumpkin'


Where to sow Outdoors in open ground


Site/Soil Open site for Spring and Autumn sowings, slight shade for Summer sowings.

Well drained with plenty of humus, do not sow on freshly manured bed.


Sowing time Summer varieties - under cloches January or February in mild areas, from March cloches are not normally required.

Winter varieties - July/August


How to sow Sow radish seeds in 1.2cm (½ inch) deep drills at about 25cm (1 inch) spacing along the drill, leave about 15cm (6 inches) between rows (for winter varieties, leave 22cm (9 inches) between the rows). Successive, small sowings of radish seeds every two or three weeks will extend the harvest without producing a glut of radishes.


Time from sowing to harvest 3 to 6 weeks (summer varieties)

10 to 12 weeks (winter varieties)