'Hollow Crown' Parsnip
This variety became popular in England in the 1820s. George Lindley (1831, 565) listed it among the varieties recommended for kitchen gardens, and it appeared on many American seed lists during the nineteenth century. The variety distinguishes itself by a sunken crown where the leaves are attached to the root. It was>considered one of the best of the very long-rooted varieties, but needs deep sandy soil to develop roots true to type. I grow it in a raised bed half filled with sand, and this seems to encourage well-shaped roots, yet if the root strikes a pebble or some other small obstacle in the soil, it will bend or divide into branches. For best results, trench the site deeply and screen the topsoil. The roots often reach 24 inches in length, so care must be taken when digging them not to cut off the ends with the shovel. Better yet, use a pitchfork.
Hollow Crown and another old variety called the sugar parsnip were often used to make muffins and small breads for tea during the Victorian period.
|Sow seed about 2.5 cm (1") apart and 6-12 mm (1/4-1/2") deep in rows 45-60 cm (18-24") apart. Keep soil evenly moist during the 3 week germination period but avoid crusting over the soil as this will greatly reduce the number of seedlings that emerge. Once seedlings have reached 5-7.5 cm (2-3") in height, thin them to 7.5 cm (3") apart in the row. Parsnips do best in deep, friable soil that has had any rocks, stones or hard lumps removed (all these can cause the roots to branch out or fork should they come into contact). Dig roots in the fall and early winter after cold has brought out the best flavour.|