Parsley is one of the most popular herbs used in cooking in the UK today. It is a versatile herb that can be added to a number of meals including fish and potatoes. It can also be made into a delicious parsley sauce that can be added to all sorts of dishes.
Parsley requires a fairly rich soil in order to thrive. Once established, however, parsley is a low-maintenance plant that requires very little attention if given the right conditions to grow in. Parsley is a biennial herb, this means it will flower and produce seeds in its second year of growth, so you’ll only need to replace it every two years.
Varieties of Parsley
There are two main types of parsley
- Flat-leaf (Italian) parsley – this resembles coriander and has a milder taste
- Curled parsley – this is what you will normally find used as a garnish and can be chopped easily
How to Grow Parsley
Parsley thrives in rich soil, with plenty of organic matter added, such as well-rotted animal manure or homemade compost. It will do best in full sun or partial shade, and needs plenty of moisture.
Parsley can take a few weeks to germinate; this is because it needs quite high temperatures to do so. It is advisable to grow parsley from plants bought in the garden centre, or sow seeds indoors in a warm room until the plants are ready to be transplanted outside.
Sow seeds in March; sowing 4-5 per pot, then thin seedlings to 1 per pot. Prepare the soil outside by digging it over and incorporating plenty of rich, organic matter such as well-rotted animal manure or homemade compost. Harden the plants off (place the pots outside during the day and take them in at night for a week, then leave them out all night for a further 5 nights before planting outside) and transplant when they are about 8cm tall.
Caring for Parsley
Parsley is a heavy feeder and will appreciate a monthly feed of an organic liquid fertiliser such as seaweed. Keep the area free from weeds and water regularly in dry periods.
Simply cut the leaves with scissors, taking care not to remove all of the leaves (this will hamper the plant’s growth). Wash the leaves thoroughly before eating, especially if you grow curled parsley (dirt can easily become trapped in the leaves).
Growing Parsley in Containers
Parsley does well in containers and looks good too. Keep the pots in a sunny spot and feed the plants regularly (once a fortnight during the growing season). You will need to water parsley more often if it is grown in pots as they can dry out more quickly, especially pots made from terracotta. To reduce the likelihood of your pot drying out, line it with a plastic bag before planting. An old compost bag is ideal for this, cut it to shape and remove the bottom of the bag so water can still drain away. Line the empty pot with the bag and add the soil so the bag is completely hidden. When the parsley has grown and you water the pot, the bag will prevent the moisture from evaporating from the sides of the pot.
Parsley is a great herb to grow as it has many uses in the kitchen. It is a heavy feeder and takes a long time to germinate, but once it is established it is easy to grow, and is very rewarding when it comes to harvest time.