If growing okra marks you as Southern, growing parsnips probably signals that you're from the North. Known botan- ically as Pastinaca sativa, this carrot relative from Siberia and Europe is among the most cold hardy of vegetables. It's grown for its delicately sweet, creamy white to yellowish root, most often used in stews.
To develop long roots, parsnips need well-prepared, loose, deep soil (roots of some selections grow to 15 inches long). Sow seeds in late summer or fall, planting them inches deep in rows spaced 2 feet apart. Thin seedlings to 3 inches apart. Leave plants in the ground over winter, as cold weather sweetens the roots. Harvest in spring; twist off the leaves to keep moisture in the roots. Parsnips left in the ground will continue to grow and become tough and woody. Interplanting them with onions or garlic is said to help keep pests away. Avoid planting parsnips near carrots, as the two will compete for nutrients. 'Hollow Crown' is a time-tested selection (1820s) that is still popular today.