Brits have been cultivating and enjoying parsnips for a couple of thousand years now. It may be one of those fetish things we have like spreading marmite on toast or HP sauce (don’t ask), on a good pie. They are disdained by our French cousins, who cultivate them only for cattle food. Lucky cattle! But IMHO (and I won’t be alone in this), you’ve never lived until you’ve had the perfectly roasted parsnip. This is one of the simplest ways to eat them. Just parboil them for 5 minutes, skin them and then quarter them and brush them with fat and roast them in a shallow pan (makes them nice and crispy). If you’re roasting a joint of meat just bung the parsnips in with the roast and they will soak up the meat juices. But that’s just one way, if you ask you will get deluged with good parsnip recipes. They have a distinct natural sweetness and taste something like a sweet potato with a touch of turnip. Glaze them with butter, sugar, orange and lemon juice. Yum!
Don’t know what your soil conditions are like but they really need a fairly deep, well cultivated soil as the roots are cabable of extending 3 feet down into the soil. In hard, stony ground they will grow stunted and the roots are likely to fork and if they get droughted they will be hard and woody and not very nice. Don’t let this put you off though. Just find a some 4 or 5 inch land drains or soil pipe, sink these into the soil a couple of inches and fill with sifted soil, firm it down and sow them in there. Problem solved but you will have to water them frequently.
Sometimes it seems they take forever to germinate and they have a long long growing season (about 7 months) before harvest. Over here we tend to sow March/April time to be harvesting in October/November. Follow the guidelines (if you can find any) in your locality. Let us know if you decide to try it and we will inundate you with recipes. Good luck.