Friday, 14 June 2013

HOW TO GROW PARSLEY

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Herbs are easy to grow and look fantastic in your garden, so why not create your own herb garden. Whether it’s a formal herb garden, a potager or a few pots by the back door you will soon discover that herbs can be grown successfully in your garden or windowsill. You will be able to pick your own fresh herbs to add to your dishes, which far surpasses the flavour that pre-packed dried herbs offer.

Parsley is a versatile herb to grow as it has many uses in the kitchen. You can choose from either curled leaf parsley, which is often used as a garnish, or flat leafed parsley which has a milder taste. Parsley is a biennial herb; flowering and developing seeds in its second year.

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You can either grow parsley from plants bought in the garden centre, sow seeds indoors to be planted out or sow seeds direct into a bed. Parsley grows well in containers too, either indoors or outdoors. 

Growing from Seed 

Sow your parsley seeds indoors from March to give them  a head start and extend the growing season.  Fill 9 cm pots with seed and potting compost and sow 4-5 seeds per pot.  No need to cover the seeds with soil, just water gently. Germination of parsley is very slow and can take up to three weeks.  This is because parsley requires a high temperature to germinate so place your pots in a sunny position until the seeds start to develop.  

When the seedlings are 2 cm tall thin out to one seedling per pot, and when the seedlings are 8 cm tall they are ready to be transplanted outside.  Ensure that you harden off the plants for several weeks prior to placing them in their final position.

Seeds can also be planted out directly into the soil after the risk of frosts has passed.  Plant in drills 2 cm deep and 25 cm apart.  Cover with soil to prevent seedlings from being eaten by birds. During the season thin out seedlings until plants are 15 cm apart.

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Maintenance 

Select a plot in full sun or partial shade.  Parsley likes moist soil so dig in plenty of organic matter such as well rotted farm yard manure or compost. Water deeply once per week to encourage a deep tap root. Parsley is a hungry plant so feed monthly with a liquid fertiliser.  Water during dry spells and remove competing weeds.  Add a mulch around the base of the plant to help to retain moisture and keep down competing weeds.

If growing parsley in containers place in a sunny position and water regularly to prevent the soil drying out. Feed the plants fortnightly in the growing season.   

You can harvest your parsley by removing the outer stalks to ground level and not the leaves from the top of the plant, as this will reduce your yield. Do not remove all of the leaves from the plant as this will result in checking plant growth.

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