- Parsley Seed Growing – Learn How To Grow Parsley From Seed
- Can Parsley Be Grown from Seeds?
- How to Grow Parsley from Seed
- An Herb For All Seasons
- In the Kitchen
- Companions and Pests
- Harvest and Storage
- And It’s Healthy, Too!
- Recipe Ideas
- The Finishing Touch
- HOW TO GROW PARSLEY IN THE UK
- GROWING PARSLEY FROM SEED IN THE UK
- QUICK CALENDAR FOR GROWING PARSLEY IN THE UK
- WHEN AND HOW TO SOW PARSLEY SEED
- WHEN AND HOW TO HARDEN OFF YOUNG PARSLEY
- PLANTING PARSLEY
- CARING FOR PARSLEY
- VARIETIES OF PARSLEY
- COSTS OF GROW YOUR OWN PARSLEY
Parsley Seed Growing – Learn How To Grow Parsley From Seed
Parsley is more than a frilly garnish. It marries well with most foods, is rich in vitamins A and C, and is a significant source of calcium and iron – all of which make it a must have in the herb garden. Most of us buy our herb starts, but can parsley be grown from seeds? If so, how do you grow parsley from seed? Let’s learn more.
Can Parsley Be Grown from Seeds?
Parsley is a biennial that is primarily grown as an annual. It’s suitable to USDA zones 5-9 and comes in both curly leaf and flat leaf parsley. But I digress from the question, can this herb be grown by seed? Yes, parsley can be grown from seed. You just might need to pack a little patience. Parsley takes a whopping six weeks to germinate!
How to Grow Parsley from Seed
Parsley, like most herbs, does best in a sunny area with at least six to eight hours of sun per day. Parsley seed growing should be done in well-draining soil that is fairly rich in organic matter with a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. Parsley seed growing is an easy process, but as mentioned, requires some patience.
Germination is very slow, but if you soak the seed overnight in water, the germination rate increases. Plant parsley seed in the spring after all danger from frost has passed for your area or start the seeds indoors in the late winter, six to eight weeks prior to the last frost date.
Cover the seeds with 1/8 to ¼ inch soil and 4-6 inches apart in rows 12-18 inches apart. Mark the rows since germination is so slow. The growing parsley seeds look like fine blades of grass. Thin the seedlings (or transplants) when they are 2-3 inches tall, spaced 10-12 inches apart.
Keep the plants consistently moist as they continue to grow, watering once a week. To help retain moisture and retard weed growth, mulch around the plants. Fertilize the plants once or twice during their growing season with a 5-10-5 fertilizer in the amount of 3 ounces per 10 foot row. If the parsley is being grown in a container, use a liquid fertilizer at ½ the recommended strength every three to four weeks.
Your growing parsley seeds should be ready for harvest as soon as they are a few inches tall and are growing vigorously. Just snip the outer stems from the plant and it will continue to grow throughout the season.
At the end of its growth cycle, the plant will produce a seed pod, at which time harvesting your own parsley seeds is possible. Keep in mind that parsley crosses with other parsley varieties, however. You need at least one mile between varieties to get reliable seed. Just allow the seeds to mature and dry on the plants before harvesting them. They can be kept in a cool, dry area for up to two to three years and retain their viability.
We’re all familiar with parsley, often used as a garnish on our favorite dishes. But its usefulness goes far beyond visual appeal on a plate!
Parsley’s culinary applications are extensive, and it offers many outstanding health properties with beneficial vitamins, minerals, volatile oils, and antioxidants.
In classical antiquity, it was used by the Greeks in the victory wreaths they made for athletic competitions, and the Romans would include it in bridal sprays to ward off evil spirits.
In medieval Europe, it was thought that only pregnant women and witches could grow it successfully.
At one time, it was thought to be a symbol of death, and was used as a funeral herb. Conversely, on a Seder plate at Passover, it’s used as a springtime symbol of life’s perpetual renewal.
Seedheads left in place are appreciated by overwintering songbirds, and it’s one of the first plants chipmunks will forage under when they emerge from hibernation.
It serves as an excellent companion herb for veggies and roses, and also makes an attractive, textured border plant.
Plus, the aromatic greenery of the curly leaf variety is a striking addition when mixed with flowers in hanging baskets and planters.
To enjoy parsley’s many benefits and applications, let’s look at the best growing conditions, how to use it as a companion plant, kitchen use and storage, and much more!
An Herb For All Seasons
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a biennial herb with bright green, lacy leaves that can be either tightly curled or flat.
Native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean regions, it grows with a deep taproot and supporting secondary roots. This taproot makes it impractical to propagate through division, but it is easily grown from seed.
Being a biennial, the sweetest, most flavorful leaves are produced in the first year. In the second year of growth, the flavor will decline somewhat as it prepares to set seeds.
Parsley plants have a single taproot, which makes it impractical to propagate through division. Photo by Lorna King.
Pinching off seedhead stalks as soon as they appear will help to retain its sweet flavor and extend the plant’s lifespan.
If you do allow seeds to set on some plants, not only will the winter birds appreciate the gesture, you’ll also have plenty of self-sown seedlings early the following spring – and these are easy to transplant.
Notoriously slow and spotty to germinate, allowing a few plants to self-seed is an easy method to ensure you have a bountiful supply of new plants for the garden, and to pot up for kitchen herbs.
Hardy to about 10°F, it will lose its leaves during extended periods of freezing temperatures. But new growth will reappear as soon as the days start to lengthen.
The addition of a dry, thick mulch or a cloche will help in areas with more severe winter weather.
Plants grown in protected areas (i.e. up against a wall or building with a southern exposure) with a thick, dry mulch placed around the crowns will still produce new foliage in regions with cool winter temperatures.
To enjoy its fresh taste all year, you can always bring a pot indoors during the cold season to sit on a sunny windowsill.
Seeds can be planted outdoors in March or April, and again in late summer for early growth the next spring. Direct sow outdoors in early spring, or once the soil has warmed up, ideally around 70°F.
Soak your parsley seeds for 24 hours before planting to speed germination. Photo by Lorna King.
As parsley is slow to germinate, often taking up to four weeks, soaking the seeds for 24 hours in lukewarm water will help to hasten sprouting.
You may also start seeds indoors 8-12 weeks before the last frost.
Parsley prefers soil enriched with plenty of organic material, such as compost and well-rotted manure. And a pH of 6.0-7.0 provides the best range for nutrient absorption and vitality.
Sow seeds 1 inch apart at a depth of ¼ inch, and keep the soil moist for the entire growing season. Thin to 6 inches apart when the second set of true leaves has emerged.
Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer 5-1-1 Concentrate
Fertilizers should have an N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium) ratio of 1-1-1, or you may use a foliage formula of 3-1-2 or 5-1-1.
A side dressing of nitrogen after the first heavy harvest can be applied, as nitrogen promotes leaf growth. Fish fertilizer with a 5-1-1 formula is a good choice for leafy green veggies and herbs. Alaska fish emulsion fertilizer, one of our favorites, is available on Amazon.
Seeds can be collected in late summer, and stored in a dry, cool location.
In the Kitchen
Two main cultivars are available for home gardens.
Curly leaf parsley is used mainly as a garnish, and for drying or freezing. It also has a distinctive appearance when used in the garden as a companion plant, or mixed with flowers.
Flat leaf or Italian parsley is more often used for cooking. It has a deeper flavor, and is easier to handle on the cutting board.
This flavorful herb is widely used in sauces, salad dressings, soups, and stuffing. It’s also an integral ingredient in classic herb blends such as bouquet garni, fines herbes, poultry, and Italian seasonings, and in an herb crust for fish and meat.
Even if you have parsley in your landscape, it’s a good idea to have a pot of the herb near the kitchen. Photo by Lorna King.
Finely minced, it makes a wonderful seasoning served over just picked, homegrown potatoes, salads, steamed veggies, egg dishes, tabouli, and much more.
When used as a seasoning, it also reduces the need for salt – making it a valuable aid for those looking to lower their sodium intake.
There’s also a third, rather obscure type that is used for culinary purposes. Known as Hamburg, parsnip, or soup parsley, it’s the root of this variety that is actually eaten.
The leaves are very pungent and most folks find them too intense to be palatable. But the parsnip-like root can be added raw to salads, or added to soups and stews.
Companions and Pests
Plant parsley around the base of rose bushes to enhance their growth and fragrance.
Parsley planted near rose bushes can enhance the rose’s growth and fragrance. Photo by Lorna Kring.
In the veggie patch, plant it near asparagus, bell peppers, members of the cabbage family, carrots, chives, corn, onions, peas, and tomatoes.
It will enhance that flavor of many veggies, and its volatile oils act as a natural pest repellent. But keep it away from the lettuce patch.
From the Apiaceae family, parsley’s cousins include anise, caraway, carrot, celery, dill, fennel, and parsnip – and it’s susceptible to the same problems that bother carrots and celery.
The most common of these is fungal disease, which comes in a variety of guises and will usually show up during periods of warm, wet weather.
Crown and root rot, leaf spot, and Botrytis blight (a.k.a. gray mold) are the most frequent problems, and will appear in persistently wet soil that favors fungi and bacterial growth.
If infected, remove damaged plants, thin to improve air circulation, and refrain from overhead watering.
Use a drip line instead. Bacteria is often present in the soil, which then gets splashed onto the leaves from overhead watering, and this in turn infects the plants.
Ensure your garden soil or planters have adequate drainage to prevent soggy soil conditions, and look for disease resistant varieties in areas with high humidity.
Harvest and Storage
Leaves can be harvested when the stem they’re attached to has three distinct and separate segments. Cut them from the outside edges of the plant, leaving the inner growth to mature.
To preserve freshness, store parsley stems upright in water in the refrigerator. Photo by Lorna King.
Fresh parsley will last longer in the fridge if the stalks are kept in a small container of water.
For long-term storage up to eight months, freezing retains the flavor better than drying – although neither method can replace the taste and texture of fresh.
You won’t be able to use frozen parsley as a garnish, but it’s quite acceptable for use in sauces, soups, and stews.
Here are four methods for freezing:
For all methods, first wash the herb in cool running water, then pat dry or remove excess water with a few whirls in a salad spinner. Remove the stems.
1. Store Flat
Pack leaves flat into a freezer bag. Then squeeze out the excess air and seal.
Freeze parsley in a single layer for quick thawing. Photo by Lorna King.
When you need some, just break or cut off as much as you want and return the rest to the freezer.
I find this method preferable to freezing in ice cube form. When frozen flat, leaves will melt almost instantly when added to your cooking, whereas cubes can take several minutes to thaw, and extra water dilutes the potency and flavor of the herb.
2. Make Pesto
Mince the leaves finely, alone or with other herbs like basil. Add some minced garlic, then blend in a bit of healthy oil.
Toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan, and a dash of salt and pepper make fine additions as well, but they aren’t necessary. Your herb mixture will be a lot more versatile if you keep it simple, for use in a huge variety of dishes (and you can always blend with additional ingredients after defrosting).
Pack into ice cube trays and freeze. When set, remove cubes from the trays and store in a freezer bag with excess air removed.
3. Roll Up a Log
To form a log, pack leaves tightly into the bottom of a freezer bag, then apply pressure and roll like you’re making sushi into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter.
Roll up the bag, squeezing out the excess air as you go. Seal and secure your herb log with a couple of elastic bands. When you need some parsley, simply slice off a round or two, then return to the freezer.
4. Pack a Jar
Pack leaves tightly into small, wide-mouth jars, seal, and freeze. When needed, invert the jar to remove the block of parsley, slice off an appropriate amount, then return to the freezer.
If the block doesn’t pop out easily, run a dinner knife under hot water, then insert between the parsley and jar to dislodge.
Weck 760 Mini Mold Jar, 5.4 Ounce
In order for the frozen block to pop out easily, it’s important to use wide-mouth jars. I like these 5.4-ounce mini mold jars from Weck, available on Amazon. Tulip jars, or those with shoulders, will prevent a frozen block from slipping out.
5. Dry it Out
For short-term storage up to two months, parsley can also be dried.
Leave the stems in place and tie them into small bundles with kitchen twine. Hang upside down in a well-ventilated area with moderate temperatures, out of direct sunlight.
When the bundles are completely dry, crumble in a brown paper bag or on butcher paper, then store in airtight containers.
And It’s Healthy, Too!
Parsley has excellent levels of vitamin C and K, and it is a good source of vitamin A. Plus, it has high levels of folate and iron.
Collect parsley seeds in late summer. Photo by Lorna King.
Keep in mind, however, that herbs are usually eaten in very small quantities. Eating the garnish you might have previously tossed won’t meet your vitamin requirements for the day.
It also has several notable volatile oils, such as myristicin and limonene, as well as flavonoids including apiin, crisoeriol and luteolin.
The chemo-protective volatile oils have shown promise in neutralizing certain carcinogens, like the benzopyrenes found in charcoal grill smoke. This makes parsley a smart addition to marinades for meat and poultry before they go on a charcoal grill.
The antioxidant activity of the vitamins and flavonoids may play an important role in promoting and maintaining cardiovascular health. They may also provide protection against chronic inflammation and related diseases like arthritis.
This aromatic herb also has a well-earned reputation for cleansing the palate, and refreshing your breath after a meal.
Parsley is a cooking classic, but we wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity to recommend a few recipes that highlight the bright flavor of this herb.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Parsley Dressing
The star ingredient in this vibrant green dressing, you’ll love the melding of flavors with fresh and grilled, caramelized vegetables.
Photo by Kendall Vanderslice. © Ask the Experts, LLC.
Get the recipe now on Foodal.
Making your own flavored compound butter with this recipe from Charity Beth Long (a.k.a. Kitty) is a simple way to feature the flavors of fresh herbs like parsley and chives, alliums like shallots, and bright citrus.
Photo by Charity Beth Long © Vintage Kitty. Used with permission.
Add a slice to your next pot of mashed potatoes, or pull some out of the freezer to serve with fresh baked bread.
You’ll find the recipe on Vintage Kitty.
Italian Braciole in Slow Simmered Sauce
If you haven’t had homemade braciole, then you’re in for a treat – and fresh Italian flat leaf parsley is a key ingredient.
Photo by Lauren Pariseau © Hunger Thirst Play. Used with permission.
Lauren Pariseau teaches us how to make it. This rolled meat dish, butterflied and pounded flank steak (in this iteration) with savory cold cuts, is stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese, tied with kitchen string, and braised in a slow cooked tomato sauce. Sunday dinner is served!
Visit Hunger Thirst Play for the recipe.
The Finishing Touch
Parsley brings so many benefits to the table. Isn’t it time to start adding it to your garden, too?
Curly leaf parsley makes a striking accent plant in the landscape. Photo by Lorna King.
Bountiful in culinary applications, it’s also easy to grow, and beneficial to other plants. It makes a smashing accent in containers, and contributes to our good health as well.
Use it fresh and freeze your surplus, or bring a pot indoors for a year-round supply. And don’t forget to leave some seeds in place for seedlings next spring – and for the birds to enjoy over winter!
What are your favorite ways to use parsley in the garden and kitchen? Leave us a note in the comments below!
Recipe photos used with permission. Plant photos by Lorna Kring, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Uncredited photo: . With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
The staff at Gardener’s Path are not medical professionals and this article should not be construed as medical advice intended to assess, diagnose, prescribe, or promise cure. Gardener’s Path and Ask the Experts, LLC assume no liability for the use or misuse of the material presented above. Always consult with a medical professional before changing your diet or using plant-based remedies or supplements for health and wellness.
About Lorna Kring
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!
Because it takes so long to germinate many gardeners have trouble raising parsley. David Batty explains how to get round the problem.
The cultivation of parsley goes back at least to the Ancient Greeks who used it to crown their athletes, and also wore it to fend off drunkenness! It has long been considered a valuable herb and we now know it to be rich in iron and carotene. It need not be confined to herb gardens either, for in the flower garden its foliage provides a pleasant back-ground, particularly to spring bulbs.
It has, however, a reputation for being fickle, sometimes doing well and sometimes failing miserably. More often than not, the problems are due to slow germination, poor soil and over-crowding. Basically, parsley needs warmth for germination, a rich, deeply dug soil and plenty of room. When these conditions are satisfied, the plants will develop into dark green domes that are a joy to see and to pick.
Parsley, is naturally slow germinating, and along with carrots and celery, parsley can suffer from having seeds with underdeveloped embryos. This means that once sown these seeds still need time to develop and mature before they can germinate. Whilst in this immature state they are susceptible to soil pests and diseases and this is often the reason why germination is slow and patchy. Early sowings often also fail because the soil temperature is too low for rapid germination and development.
Parsley will germinate at temperatures from 40-90F (5-32C). The optimum temperature is 80F (27C) with a drop during the night to 68F (20C), and at lower temperatures germination will take correspondingly longer. A suitable compromise particularly for early sowings, is to sow in containers at room temperature, when germination usually takes around 7 days, and transplant later on into the garden. An alternative is fluid sowing where pre-germinated seedlings are piped along the drill in an inert gel. Research has shown that this method results in better and earlier emergence.
It is usually only necessary to make two sowings, one in spring (April in the UK) and one in the summer (July). The latter crop to provide continuity of supply through the winter, and into the following spring. If you are sowing indoors it can be done as early as February for planting outside in April. Outdoors, sow in drills ½-¾ inch (1-2cm) deep, in rows 12 inches (30cm) apart. During dry weather water the bed well before sowing and if you have persistent problems with parsley, try mixing damp peat with the seeds before sowing. Watering the drill before sowing with a kettleful of boiling water has also proved helpful, perhaps because it acts as a soil sterilant to keep disease and weeds away during the long germination period.
After germination, perhaps the most important thing is to give the plants enough room, so thin out before the seedlings begin to crowd and leave each plant finally with 12 inches (30cm) of space. Light picking can commence 85-90 days from sowing and from then on should be carried out regularly along the full length of the row. This will ensure a constant supply of fresh leaves. You can dry what you do not use or even put it on the compost heap, but if you stop picking, the foliage will go coarse.
For a winter supply, cover a few plants with a cloche or pot up some roots in the autumn and grow on in a cool, well-lit place. Parsley will also grow happily in pots on a windowsill or even in a hanging basket in a cool, well-lit kitchen window, where fresh parsley will always be to hand.
There are several varieties available, the main difference being the amount of curling of the leaves. This is valuable for garnishing but for flavour the plain leaf form often called ‘French’ parsley is unsurpassable.
David Batty worked for many years as Technical Manager at Thompson and Morgan Seeds.
Source of article
Growing From Seed – Winter 1987-88 Vol. 2 Number 1
© The Seed Raising Journal from Thompson & Morgan
HOW TO GROW PARSLEY IN THE UK
GROWING PARSLEY FROM SEED IN THE UK
Parsley seeds don’t germinate (sprout into life) as easily as some seeds and there is a good natural reason for this. For parsley seed to germinate it requires a minimum soil temperature of at least 40°F / 5°C but you will find that very few germinate at that low temperature. The optimum temperature range is 70°F / 21°C to 80°F / 27°C. Above that temperature the germination rate of parsley seed will rapidly decrease.
Parsley seed, in common with several others, is naturally coated with a germination retardant to prevent all the seeds germinating at the same time. This ensures that sudden drops in temperature, which can kill emerging seedlings, won’t kill all the seeds. Some will germinate later than others to ensure that at least a few of them will have the correct weather conditions immediately after germination.
The key therefore to ensuring your parsley seeds grow into plants is to sow more seeds than are necessary. Some will germinate and others won’t. Maintaining the correct temperature range and ensuring they seeds are kept damp are the other elements to growing parsley from seed. That’s the theory, now we describe how to do this in practice.
QUICK CALENDAR FOR GROWING PARSLEY IN THE UK
Sow parsley seed indoors
The second week of March
Thin out seedlings
The first week of April
Harden off young parsley
The third week of April
Plant out parsley
The first week of May
Begin to harvest parsley
The last week of June
WHEN AND HOW TO SOW PARSLEY SEED
Parsley seed can be sown indoors at any time of the year and then grown on indoors with reasonable success but by far the best way to grow parsley is to sow seed indoors and then plant outside when the seedlings are established. The best time to sow parsley seed is the second week of March 2015 (UK average). to personalise dates in this site to your town. Before sowing the seeds it is a good idea to soak them in lukewarm water for 36 hours. This will help to remove some of the germination inhibitors which naturally coat the seeds.
Fill 8cm / 3in wide pots nearly to the top with standard multi-purpose potting compost and place the pots in a shallow container of water. Allow the compost to absorb the water until the top of the compost is damp. This can take up to an hour or so depending on how dry the compost is.
Empty any remaining water from the shallow container then stand the pots in it allowing any excess water to drain from the compost. Choose a warm place in the house, somewhere between 70°F / 21°C to 80°F / 27°C during the day, a bit cooler during the night is fine, and place the pots there for 24 hours to warm the compost in the pots.
Flat leaf parsley in a deep container
Sow six seeds on the surface of the compost and then cover them with a thin layer of compost, just enough to keep the light out and surround them with moist compost. Parsley seeds need not only warmth to germinate they also need a constant supply of moisture.
To conserve moisture, cover the top of the pots with a plastic bag or loose cling film. Place them in a warm position (see previous paragraph for temperatures) and wait for the seeds to germinate. This can take between five days and up to three weeks, after that time it may be best to assume that the seeds in the pot won’t be germinating and begin sowing more.
As soon as the seeds germinate and shoots appear on the surface of the compost remove the plastic bag / cling film and place the pots in a light and airy position out of direct sunlight – a windowsill is ideal. It’s important to do this immediately the seedlings emerge to allow them full access to light and also to provide air circulation which will prevent any fungal diseases.
As your parsley plant grows over the next few weeks turn it round slightly each day to encourage it grow upwards rather than towards the light.
As soon as the seedlings are about 2cm / ¾in high use a pair of small scissors to snip away all but the strongest seedling. Don’t pull up the smaller seedlings, that will only disturb the roots of the remaining strongest one. Keep the compost lightly moist, no feeding is necessary until the plants are moved to their final positions.
See the two pictures below, the first showing the germinated parsley seedlings and the second showing them after they have been thinned out. Note that in the first picture there is a a thin coating of mould on the surface of the compost which we disturbed and broke up with plant marker before taking the second picture.
Curly parsley seedlings before being thinned out.
One remaining curly parsley seedling.
Flat leaf parsley seedlings
Note that flat leaf parsley seedling are far more “straggly” looking when they emerge compared to the stouter curly leaf parsley seedlings (see the pictures above).
Parsley grows quite slowly at first and the picture below shows that ten weeks after the seeds were sown the plant is still relatively small. At this stage its best to pot up your plants into larger pots which are deeper than the original ones. We use 15cm / 6in pots which are deeper than normal to allow the tap root to grow away easily.
Parsley ready for a larger pot
Plant them in their new pots to the same depth as in the previous pots. The picture below shows that the roots have established well, a good sign that potting up will benefit them.
Roots have filled the small pot
WHEN AND HOW TO HARDEN OFF YOUNG PARSLEY
Although parsley can withstand a degree or two of frost it definitely grows best in warmer temperatures and that is especially true during the early stages of its life. So, before planting it out harden it off for a week or two to accustom it to outside conditions.
Starting in the third week of April 2015 place the plant outside during the warmer part of the day in a protected position. Over the next couple of weeks gradually increase the amount of time the plant spends outside but do bring it inside if a frost is likely.
Parsley can be planted outside when the danger of frost has passed which is the first week of May 2015 (UK average). to personalise dates in this site to your town.
If you are planting parsley in a container (as most people do) then the size of the container is important. A width of 20cm / 8in and larger is fine with a depth of at least 40cm / 16in. This is a slightly unusual pot size because it is a deeper compared to the width. The reason for this is that parsley will grow a long tap root and we have found they like a good depth of soil, the width is less important.
Make sure the container has lots of holes in the bottom and fill the base to a depth of 3cm / 1in with gravel, small stones or similar to provide good drainage. Fill the remainder of the container with multi-purpose compost to within 3cm / 1in of the top.
Curly leaf parsley in a deep container
If you are planting your parsley in open ground dig the soil well before hand and work a handful or two of blood, fish and bone into the ground. If planting more than one plant in open ground space them about 40cm / 16in apart
Planting is the same process into pots or open ground. Make a hole in the soil / compost about the same size as the pot. Remove the parsley from the pot trying your best to disturb the roots as little as possible, place the root ball into the hole to the same depth as it was in the pot and fill in with soil / compost. Firm the soil down lightly to remove any air pockets. Water them in well.
CARING FOR PARSLEY
When parsley is fully established it is a strong growing plant and very unlikely to suffer from pests or diseases. It does need to be kept well watered especially when grown in a pot. To help with watering container grown parsley, a mulch of gravel, chipped bark or similar will retain a lot of the moisture in warm weather. A once a month feed of a handful of blood, fish and bone will provide sufficient nutrients for both container grown and outside grown plants.
Harvesting can start as soon as there is a good head of leaves. Parsley will respond to harvesting by producing an even more dense head of leaves so harvest a little and often even if they are not needed.
VARIETIES OF PARSLEY
There are two types of parsley commonly used for cooking, Italian Flat Leaf (P. neapolitanum) and Curly Leaf (P. crispum). Within those two types there are many varieties. We investigated in some detail which we thought was best for cooking because different sources conflicted with each other. We list below our conclusions in no particular order.
- The best for garnish and decoration was clearly Curly Leaf
- The difference in flavour between specific varieties of the same type was, to our taste buds, not noticeable
- Flat Leaf parsley is stronger in flavour when it is young but this decreases as it ages
- Curly Leaf parsley becomes stronger in taste (possibly more bitter) as it ages
- At the crossover point between young leaves and more aged leaves the two types had the same strength of flavour.
Those conclusions may well explain the difference of opinion between the experts when asked which has the stronger flavour. There is no definitive answer because much depends when the leaves and stalks are harvested. Without doubt, growing conditions will also influence flavour.
In the UK we tend to use parsley as a garnish or as a herb to flavour a variety of dishes, the most common being parsley sauce.
Our advice would be to buy curly leaf parsley simply because it can be used as both a garnish and a herb for parsley sauce and other dishes. At one stage of its growth is will be less strong compared to flat leaf parsley but later on it will be stronger.
COSTS OF GROW YOUR OWN PARSLEY
As with all grow-your-own plants, taste is key as is the knowledge that the produce has not been sprayed with masses of unknown chemicals. But another factor is cost – is grow-your-own parsley cheaper and more convenient compared to the shop bought equivalent?
To come up with a meaningful cost comparison we have assumed you buy a pack of parsley from a supermarket ten times a year:
TOTAL SUPERMARKET ANNUAL COST £8.00
Costs involved in grow-your-own assume:
Parsley seed will remain viable for four years or more if kept in cool and dry conditions
Plastic pots which can be reused many times
Blood, fish and bone fertiliser, a handful six times a year
Seeds (we bought 100 parsley seeds at Wilco for 39p)
Potting compost is from a 70 litre bag
Two plants can produce a sufficient quantity throughout the year
TOTAL GROW YOUR OWN ANNUAL COST £1.05
So, grow-your-own parsley is not only chemical free, much more convenient (it can be harvested at any time in your garden) and far fresher, it is also far less than the cost of supermarket parsley. That has to be good value especially when you consider that curly parsley makes a very attractive, nearly evergreen plant that would look great in any garden.
END OF ARTICLE
BACK TO MAIN HERB PAGE
No organic kitchen garden is complete without parsley. Both curly and flat-leaf parsley are loaded with flavour and productive over a long period in your organic herb garden. Parsley is cold hardy and can even be harvested for much of the winter. Grow parsley in a deeply dug bed. Add a generous amount of rotted manure or finished compost to the bed several weeks in advance, or the previous fall. For summer crops, aim to grow plants in a place where they will receive some shade during the day. Follow along with this handy How to Grow Parsley Guide and grow kitchen flavour.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Zone: Hardy to Zone 5
If starting indoors, sow seeds 1cm (½”) deep, in sterilized seed starting mix, in peat pots or plug trays. Like its cousins dill and cilantro, parsley develops a taproot that does better if left undisturbed. You can sow outdoors in drills 3cm (1¼”) deep, spaced 8cm (3″) apart. Thin final plants to 15cm (6″) apart.
Grow parsley in a deeply dug bed. Add a generous amount of rotted manure or finished compost to the bed several weeks in advance, or the previous fall. For summer crops, aim to grow plants in a place where they will receive some shade during the day – either on the east or west side of a structure or fence works well. For winter crops, start new seeds in late summer and transplant out to a warm, sunny location by September. Parsley will grow all winter if cloche protection is provided.
Cut individual sprigs from the outside of the plant or the whole plant as needed. Sprigs can be dried in the food dehydrator. Chop sprigs into the portions that your favourite recipes call for, place into an ice cube tray and add water to cover. When frozen, bag and store until needed. This keeps the parsley fresh for months.
Usual seed life: 3 years.
Parsley likes asparagus, carrots, chives, corn, onions, and tomatoes. The leaves can be sprinkled on asparagus to repel asparagus beetles, and around roses, to improve their scent. Parsley allowed to bloom will attract hoverflies and predatory wasps. Don’t plant it near mint.
More on Companion Planting.