Petroselinum crispum Full Sun/Partial Shade Soil pH: 5.5 to 6.5
Parsley, best known as a garnish on many dishes, sprinkled on meat , fish, or even salads it helps retain the fresh flavor of foods, and helps fight the dreaded Halitosis [Bad Breath].
The Parsley plant will grow up to a foot in height . They serve well in symbiotic companion garden schemes for vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Curled parsley has ruffled leaves, and is more often used as a garnish than flat leafed varieties.
Parsley can be grown as a perennial in temperate climates for only two seasons, in its second season after flowering the composition of the plant changes and the leaves are no longer palatable – they develop a bitter taste. I Recommend growing it as an annual only.
If Sowing seeds directly outdoors, the soil temperature should be around 50 degrees F. Parsley seed germinates very slowly, sometimes 6-8 weeks before the seedlings break the soil surface. Soaking the seeds in Luke warm water overnight before planting will speed the process slightly. As the seedlings sprout, they should be thinned to about 10 inches apart.
Parsley should be planted in the spring in cool climates , in warmer regions, USDA zones 7 and warmer it should be planted in early Autumn. Winters in warm regions provide excellent growing conditions for parsley. Italian flat leaf parsley is more heat tolerant than curly varieties.
Parsley can also be used in Aesthetic flower gardens and pots as a green filler to accompany decorative flower plants or as a border to garden beds.
Parsley compliments the health of plants such as Asparagus. Parsley planted with asparagus seems to provide vigor to both as per Cornell University, as well parsley also acts as a repellent for the Asparagus Beetle . Hot and sweet pepper, tomatoes, eggplant are other vegetables that parsley has symbiotic relations with. It should not be planted near, or in rotation with lettuce or mint. Corn helps the development of parsley, but the parsley does nothing for the corn, nor is it harmful. [See: Companion Planting]
Soil ph should be between 5.5 and 6.5 for optimal results. They are tolerant of either Full sun or partial shade. A slow-release fertilizer to the soil at planting is advisable. Keep the soil moist, a shallow layer of organic mulch wouldn’t be a bad idea as it retains moisture in the warm weather, and insulates in the cool.
When mulching, don’t cover the crown of the plant so as to avoid the risk of rot. If you intend to grow it as a perennial, in the early Autumn you can promote new foliage by cutting the plants back and then set them out in the spring to await new growth.
Whiteflies are a serious pest of parsley, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil will generally eradicate this problem.
Caterpillars, worms, moths all love parsley and are frequent pests. The butterflies are attractive and useful as pollinators, but the larvae can be a nuisance [See:Worms and Moths in the Garden].
The parsley-worm also known as celery worm is a heavy feeder on its namesake parsley, the adult stage is the black swallowtail butterfly. Parsley worms will eat most of the plant.
Harvest And Storage of Parsley
Harvest in the morning, after any dew has evaporated, or in the early evening under dry conditions is best. Gather stems and leaves as needed, start by stripping off the bigger outer leaves initially, later cut the parsley stems near the ground level. Periodic in season harvesting will serve to make the parsley plant grow bushier. Parsley can be dried or Frozen in much the same fashion as other herbs, but does not retain it’s flavor as well. Fresh Parsley is best.
To Dry Parsley hang it upside down in a shaded well ventilated location. Drying trays or a food dehydrator will also suffice.