Monday 2 February 2015


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Parsley Petroselinum crispum is a culinary herb, spice and a vegetable.  It is native to the Mediterranean and now widely grown and used in Europe, America and middle east.

There are three main groups of parsley used, including flat leaved or Italian parsley P. crispum neapolitanum group and curly leaved parsley P. crispum crispum group.  Curled parsley has is very decorative with its tightly curled, dark green foliage.  Plain leaved parsley is stronger in taste and easier to cultivate as it closer related to wild parsley but the leaves are less attractive. A third type (Parsley crispum radicosum group) has a thick root stem resembling celery that is eaten in a similar way to carrots.

Parsley is a culinary staple and can be used throughout the year. It grows as a biennial in temperate climates, forming a rosette of tripinnate leaves in the first year as well as a taproot used as a food store over the winter.  It flowers and quickly sets seed in the second year. 

Parsley grows best in moist, well-drained soil, with full sun, growing best best in temperatures between 22–30 °C. Use a garden cane to draw a shallow drill about 5 mm deep.  Parsley seeds are very small so mix your seeds with a handful of dry sand to assist equal spacing and gently trickle the mixture along the drill. Cover with 5mm soil and water.  Cover with black polythene until the first leaves emerge, and then remove it. 

Parsley seeds take a long time to germinate, about four weeks in warm soils and longer in colder ones. The process can be speeded up by soaking the seeds in lukewarm water for a few hours prior to sowing to soften their tough outer shells.  Seeds sown directly into the ground during May and June will germinate quicker than spring sowings.

To ensure a winter supply make a late sowing outdoors in July or August and the parsley will be ready to pick from Autumn onwards.  Protect plants form the frost in the winter with a cloche or dig some seedling up, pot them on and place them in a greenhouse or on a windowsill.

Parsley during its second year produces greenish flowers which if not removed will reduce production and will run to seed quickly. Remove the flowering stems as soon as they appear.
You can cut down your parsley hard in the summer to ensure a growth of new leaves several weeks later.  Ensure you apply a liquid fertiliser in your water after cutting. Parsley keeps well. Chop up your parsley immediately and place them in a bag and store in your freezer. 

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