Grown extensively in many vegetable gardens, parsley is a biennial herb most often treated as annual.
The culinary uses of parsley are many. Its crisp green leaves are flavorful and nutritious additions to salads. Parsley can be sprinkled over potatoes and its use in flavoring sauces, soups and stuffing is extensive.
Parsley Planting and Culture
Parsley is usually planted in March or April. It is biennial which does well either in open sun or partial shade. Any ordinary garden soil which does not dry out too rapidly, is rich in nitrogen and is not excessively alkaline is suitable.
Since parsley seeds germinate slowly, it is best to soak them in lukewarm water for 24 hours before planting. The seeds usually require four weeks to germinate. One packet of seed should sow a 100-foot row. Place seed in a shallow trench that has been fertilized with compost and well-rotted manure and cover with about 1/4 inch of fine soil. Plant rows about 12 to 16 inches apart. For a thick growth, unwanted seedlings should be thinned so that the mature plants stand at least six inches apart. The leaves also may be clipped. To avoid dam-aging the shallow roots while weeding, plant radishes among the parsley. The radishes will force out weeds and help to mark the parsley rows.
Parsley will overwinter if given the protection of light mulch during severely cold weather. One of the earliest green plants to show in the spring, parsley blossoms in the second year. To prevent the herb from going to seed, the blossoms, which look like Queen-Anne’s-lace, should be cut off as soon as they appear.
In the fall the herb may be dug up, potted and brought indoors where it will continue to provide fresh leaves throughout the winter months. Care should be taken to dig up as much of the root as possible, and some of the outside foliage should be cut from the plant. Potted plants may also be started from seed indoors.
The first tender sprigs maybe cut as soon as the leaves are well formed. From then on, the leaves, with a portion of the stem, may be cut as needed. Customarily, the outer leaves only are cut. This practice permits the heart of the plant to continue to grow and produce more leaves.
For use as flavoring, the leaves may be cut and dried. The tender parts of the stems are cut from the plants and placed on a screen in a shady, dry, well-ventilated location. When thoroughly dried, they may be crushed and stored in small, tightly covered containers.
Parsley may also be frozen for winter use. Pinch off the foliage and spread it on a cookie sheet. Quick-freeze and store, airtight, in a plastic bag to use a little at a time.
Champion Moss Curled is mild in flavor and crisp. Giant Italian is a strong producer. Hamburg is favored for its prolific growth and hardiness and its thick, edible root.