(Genus: Petroselinum - Family: Apiaceae)
Parsley and its origins
Parsley is an aromatic, herbaceous, biennial that is native to the eastern Mediterranean. It is documented in ancient times and has been used for at least 2000 years.
It is easily naturalised and in the wild, is considered to be a perennial but since it was cultivated, is widely accepted as a biennial. Characterised by a thick root and taproot, Parsley develops an erect stem that can reach up to 50cm high. The taproot becomes a food source in the winter months but its presence means that parsley is difficult to propagate by any means other than by seed.
Considered an easy plant to grow, Parsley can easily be cultivated by a novice gardener.
How to Plant Parsley
Parsley thrives in a warm, temperate climate, and should be planted where it will receive full sunlight or partial shade.
Seeds can be planted directly outdoors from February to September. Scatter 1.2g of seed per m2. The plant only requires a light covering of soil and so, can be planted a few millimetres below the surface. Seed can also be planted in rows with a 20cm spacing between each row.
The soil should be fertile, loamy and well draining. It needs to retain moisture without becoming water-logged and have a medium-texture. Before sowing, fertilise using 15g/m² of Xxxxx xxxxxx. Follow-up with two additional applications using a further 25g/m2 of the product after the first month, and use the same dose again after the first harvest. Alternatively, when the foliage appears, use 15-25g/m² of Xxxxx xxxxxx immediate-release fertiliser.
Parsley should be watered regularly, ensuring the soil remains moist, particularly in dry weather.
When to harvest Parsley
As a biennial, parsley grows in a two year cycle, blooming flowers in the summer of its second year. The flowers can be white or yellow-green. The seeds are tiny and can be toxic when consumed in large quantities.
When harvested correctly, Parsley will push-back several times throughout the year. Cut the stems with a scissors a couple of centimetres from the ground, starting with the larger stems. This will encourage new growth throughout the year.
Diseases and pests affecting Parsley growth
Did you know?
Parsley is often relegated to being a decorative addition on a plate and its nutritional value can be overlooked. Rich in vitamin C, it is also a good source of vitamins A and B, along with the minerals, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and iron. It is great for stimulating the function of the liver and is considered a homeopathic remedy for abdominal swelling.
In the kitchen, Parsley has a wide variety of uses from a garnish to a main ingredient, it adds great flavour when chopped and added to dishes. It can be used in soups, sauces, salads, stir-fry’s and on pasta.