Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is native to the Mediterranean region and it is a herbaceous biennial. It means that the plants will produce seeds the second year of their life. The first year they will produce the delicious foliage only, the second year in early summer the plants will grow flower spikes and the usable foliage will be considerably less and not so good tasting. The advice is that sow parsley every year in late spring – early summer and get rid of the plants the second year when they start growing the flowers. You can use the leaves in the second year too in early spring.
Parsley is really popular in every British kitchen, useful as a garnish and great in soups, stews, risotto well literally in every meal; I love it. You can grow curly leaved parsley, flat leaf parsley and the third variety is the Hamburg or root parsley which is not well known here in the UK but widely used in central end eastern Europe. Root parsley has a larger, parsnip like root which can be used to flavour soups and stews and to make stock.
This biennial herb grows well in rich, well drained soil; I have tried to grow it direct outside on my clay soil in the allotment but I have much better results growing in compost in pots and containers. Sow the seeds late spring when the temperature is around 20 Celsius during the day. The seeds can be slow to germinate so you have to be patient and too early sowing direct outside are not recommended. You can start the seeds indoors in small pots, sowing about 10 seeds in a 7 cm pot and then transplant them outside later when the weather warmed up, but make sure you don’t disturb the roots during the transplant, so if you think you have too many seedlings growing in your pots just thin them out. In a 7 cm pot you could have 3-4 plants growing.
You can plant the seeds direct outside form late May – June. In the heat weave we had it took the seeds about 15 days to germinate. Well, they are in pots outside. So if it is cooler it can take up to 4 weeks. Sow the seeds in rows or in blocks and thin the seedlings if too many seeds have germinated, to give the plants more room to grow. Growing parsley on the windowsill is easy too, just make sure you turn the pots around every week so that the plants get enough light on every side of the pot. Indoors you can grow parsley almost all year around. In the winter months the plants will be slower but it is still possible to grow them. For the winter I suggest you sow the seeds in medium sized pots in September. The seeds will be up in October and the plants will grow nicely and you can pick the leaves well into the winter.
Indoors on a sunny windowsill I grow parsley all year around. Use medium size pots and ordinary compost and in the winter months make sure the plants are on the lightest spot possible in the house. This wonderful herb is full of goodness, Vitamin C, B 1,2,3,4 and 6; zinc, magnesium, and iron, so eat your garnish folks!
Add the fresh leaves at the very end of the cooking to preserve all the goodness and flavour.
I do like most the curly variety but I noticed more people have the flat leaf one, which one is your favourite?