I put the seeds in directly into soil that I had prepared by digging deeply.
I always put more seeds in that the space permits and thin via harvesting meaning that my first harvests of root crops are always on the small side and my later pulls are bigger. I expect that this is an unusual practise, probably born of laziness but it seems to work for me with radish, beetroot and other roots.
The seeds were of the Hollow Crown variety. This seems like a bizarre name for a vegetable variety. To me 'hollow crown' sounds more like a vegetable disease of root crops rather than a variety, the kind of pestilence that might mean that your vegetable looks fine on the outside but is completely hollow on the inside? Intrigued by the name I googled and found Hollow Crown is a BBC TV series and that Hollow Crown parsnips are an old, seriously old variety. They were first grown in Australia in 1852 but have an older heritage in Europe, according to the seed packet to 1820.
I found then very easy and trouble free to grow. They can look untidy in the bed - the tops are pretty but do seem to flop rather than stand upright.
Here are my humble attempts at growing hollow crown parsnips. They are pretty small compared to the long rooted ones you get in the supermarket. I suspect that's a factor of my soil, my tendency to thin as I harvest and the fact that I could have grown them on longer.
What of the taste? Well it is usually the case I think that home grown anything tastes great, but I can honestly say that this is especially the case for these parsnips. I found them sweet and buttery or creamy in texture - really delicious. There was absolutely no hint of that slight bitterness you can get with parsnips...I think there might be parsnip mash with dinner.