Parsley is a herbaceous plant in the umbel family. The plant shows dark green leaves that branch into three 1 to 3 cm big leaflets. Italian parsley grows about 40 cm high, curly parsley up to 25 cm, they are both cultivars of the same plant. Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region.
Parsley is actually a biennual plant and can grow a taproot to survive winter. In the Sydney region parsley goes to seed in one growth cycle and dies off, hence we grow it annually. The flower stem can be up to a meter high.
If the plant goes to flower it offers plenty of food to bees and other pollinators.
How to grow:
Sow 5 mm deep directly into a soil enriched with compost, keep moist. Parsley loves a sunny spot. First seedlings appear after 20 days, may take up to 5 weeks to germinate. Space 15 cm apart.
Fertilise monthly with liquid fertiliser.
10 weeks to first harvest, keeps on producing new leaves until it flowers.
Growing in the neighbourhood:
Companions are tomato, sweet corn, carrots, asparagus. Doesn’t like to have potatoes in the same bed.
Pests and other problems and how we deal with them:
Parsley is a very hardy plant. Caterpillars can be a problem, if the growing conditions are bad. A bit of leaf loss on mature plants is tolerable, if caterpillars take away too much leaf material we spray the plants with dipel.
Can be grown from collected seeds.
How to harvest and use:
When harvesting parsley, cut off outer stems and leaves, don’t leave the stem on the plant because this is a burden for the plant.
All parts of parsley are edible, the root is very stringy, though. Parsley stems can be used as part of a bouquet garni in soups or stews.
Parsley is widely used in European, American and Middle Easter cooking, most often used fresh, to finish a dish or for garnish. It’s part of the Italian dip salsa verde (with capers, anchovies and garlic) and gremolata (with lemon rind and garlic), a topping for slow braised meat, especially osso bucco. Parsley makes a great pesto (with hazelnuts, garlic and parmesan). It is the key ingredient for Middle Eastern salads like tabbouleh.