How to Grow Parsley
Parsley is an easy herb to grow… once it’s started.
That goes for both the flat leaf or Italian Petroselinum neapolitanum and the curly leaf Petroselinum crispum types. If you’ve only seen parsley as a garnish on a restaurant plate, you have only met the curly type. Many cooks prefer the flat leaf for flavor and production.
Petroselinum or Parsley can be challenging when started from seed.
It is said that Parsley seeds must go to the Devil and back numerous times before they will germinate. I’m not really sure how the traveling part of that equation works, but it must have scared and frustrated Medieval gardeners waiting for their seeds to get back from H-E-double-hockey-sticks and germinate.
Parsley was also considered very dangerous to virgins. Woe to the silly girl that dared plant the stuff. She would almost certainly find herself impregnated Devil himself before she had even covered up the seeds!
Thankfully Satan doesn’t seem to hang out much in gardens these days.
If you are in a hurry and want parsley sooner rather than later, buy a started plant or two. It grows quickly.
If there is no rush, plant seeds, but be prepared for a wait. Some seeds may germinate in several weeks while some may take forever, meaning or a month or more.
My guess is that those slower seeds are still traveling to the underworld and back but according to John Jett, a WVU Hort Specialist, Parsley seeds have a special furanocoumarin coating that protects the seed, inhibits weeds and may mess with it’s own germination!
To assist the seeds in germinating and not terminating you can soak them overnight. If you have lots of time and plenty of cold weather you could try the winter sowing method my friend Monica, The Garden Faerie uses. It works beautifully and you’ll probably never notice how long germination has taken!
Did you know that Parsley is a biennial?
That simply means it produces lots of leaves in the first year, then flowers and sets seed in its second year.
Many biennials produce a ‘rosette’ of leaves the first year, or leaves that hug or grow fairly close to the ground in a circular form. When you harvest your parsley take cuttings from around the outside of this rosette, and close to the base of the plant.
When flowering Parsley will produce umbels, or flowers on an umbrella like structure.
You might also notice the leaves near the top of the plant will look much different than the lower leaves.
Once the plant finally flowers it will produce small seeds like these.
If you collect, dry and plant the seeds you’ll have more parsley plants…just as soon as they germinate!