Parsley was associated with oblivion and death in ancient Greece. This could be because of the long germination time needed to grow parsley. Over time it became a garnish but the good news is that its varieties contain a healthy dose of iron, vitamin A and vitamin C.
Types of Parsley
The main types of parsley are
- Curly Leaf – this is the ruffled leaved, five inch tall brand you see as garnish on many meals.
- Flat Leaf or Italian Parsley – This is the most desired variety as it grows to four feet in height, has flat leaves, and contains the strongest flavor as well as the highest vitamin content.
- Parsnip – You’ll never see much of this parsley as it is mostly underground with an above ground plumage resembling that of a carrot. The root is most often sold as “celery root.”
Parsley is a biennial, so it will be lush one year, come back the next year and mostly seed bearing, then be gone the third year. I’d recommend treating it as an annual to avoid harvest inconsistency. I’d also recommend buying a live plant or cutting because it takes a full six weeks to germinate from seed.
If you wish to grow from seen try planting about four times as much seed as you think you need after the air temperature gets above fifty degrees or so. Barely cover the seeds with soil and add hay on top if you can. It does well in full to partial shade. When it does sprout to a fully fledged level trim two times a month to promote further growth. It does require fertilization with liquid fertilizer about twice a month. Parsley also grows well in containers for about six to nine months out of the year and will thrive indoors if you bring it in over the winter.
Mixing parsley seed in with your carrot seed will promote carrot growth as the parsley masks the smell of the carrots, making it hard for carrot flies to find them. Parsley also enhances roses by repelling the rose beetle and green fly. Tomatoes and asparagus also are improved when planted near parsley.
If you see a green caterpillar with brown stripes on your parsley be careful, the caterpillar transforms into the black swallowtail butterfly, which is an endangered species and a beautiful sight to behold. These caterpillars are the only serious threat to your crop.
Parsley can be harvested at any time to any point and it will grow back stronger. It is very potent when frozen and subsequently crumpled up into a dish as the freezing enhances its flavor. You can also dry it several ways: on a cookie sheet in the oven (put the oven on two hundred degrees and leave the door open to create a dehydrator) or microwave it on high for one minute intervals until crisp. Store in airtight glass containers.