Parsley is a hardy, biennial that is grown and treated like an annual. It is the most widely grown herb for both garnish and flavoring. There are two distinct types of parsley: moss-curled and flat-leaf. Moss-curled forms a rosette of leaves that are finely cut and tightly curled. It is often used for garnish. Flat-leaf produces a rosette of leaves that are flat and is the preferred parsley for cooking as it has more flavor.
Parsley is grown from seed planted in the spring. Because it is slow to germinate, it is suggested to soak the seeds in water overnight prior to planting. A helpful aid to marking the rows of newly seeded parsley is to plant radish seeds in with the parsley seeds. The radish will germinate quickly to mark the row where parsley is also planted, and this helps prevent parsley seedlings from being cultivated out accidently. Parsley prefers a moderately rich, moist, well-drained soil and will grow in a partially shaded area. Parsley will overwinter but the following season results in a plant that produces a seed stalk (bolting) and leaves that are very tough and bitter. This is why new plants are started each season. When transplanting parsley take extra care not to damage the taproot.
Parsley can be grown indoors over the winter. After digging parsley plants in the fall, pot them using a prepared potting media. They grow best if given high light and a cool growing location. Discard the plants in the spring and start new transplants for the garden.
- ‘Banquet’ – The standard in the finely curled parsley class.
- Plain Italian Dark Green – Standard plain leaf variety for flavoring. Has bright green leaves and excellent flavor,
- ‘Argon’ - An improved plain leaf type. Has upright growth habit.
Parsley can be cut any time after it has become large enough. Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Fresh parsley is best stored after washing the leaves, drip drying and then placing them in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator. Parsley can also be frozen for later use.
Parsley is often seen used as a garnish. It also has the unique ability to blend with the flavors of other herbs. It is used to flavor stews, soups and other vegetables.
Photo: Herb Gardening | Parsley