Growing Parsley Provides Plenty of Vitamins
Growing parsley is one way to ensure that you and your family get enough of vitamins C and A in your diet. This mild spice can be eaten as a breath freshener or tossed in a salad to add a slight kick. Drying herbs like parsley for use throughout the year is simple and ensures you have a continuous supply for your kitchen. This herb is often blended with stronger spices like bay or oregano to flavor meats and sauces.
Planting & Care
Sow seeds in moderately rich, well drained soil after the weather has begun to warm up in the spring. Cover them lightly with soil. Growing parsley takes longer than most herbs. The seeds can take almost a month to germinate. Plant two in every hole and space the rows close together. That way if some don’t sprout you haven’t wasted 4 weeks of your growing season. Thin the seedlings to no more than 9” apart once they are well established. This way they can support each other a little as they grow.
Parsley can tolerate partial shade but should be protected from strong winds since the stalks are not very strong. Mulch these plants and water them frequently in hot weather so the soil is never completely dry. One nice thing about mulching is that it protects the parsley leaves from being spattered with mud when you water them. This makes it easier to rinse the parsley after harvest.
Like most members of the carrot family, this spice doesn’t take kindly to being transplanted. However, if you start growing parsley in peat pots you can plant them directly in your herb garden without damaging the taproot.
You can also grow this herb indoors in a container. Use a rich potting soil with compost and ensure the container drains correctly. Place the pot where it will get as much sun as possible. Prune off fresh parsley starting with the outer stems. Remove the stalks close to the ground to encourage more growth.
Harvesting and Storage
Although this plant can survive for more than one year, it is easiest to harvest during the first season. This is because the clusters of leaves are still growing close together on the stalks. Snip off a few sprigs at a time for fresh use. You can refrigerate parsley for about a week. It can also be frozen in small portions for long-term storage. Save the roots and use them to flavor soup.
Follow standard procedures for drying herbs to preserve both curly and flat varieties of parsley. Hang the plants to dehydrate in a cool, dry place for several weeks. Then crumble the leaves and store them in an airtight jar. This herb loses some of its flavor during the drying process, so use it as soon as possible.
Image courtesy of CC license by Flickr user Howard O. Young