Parsley is one of the most popular herbs used especially in the western cuisine. It is believed that this herb has its origins in Sardinia and that its cultivation started 2000 years ago and ever since it is regularly used in many dishes.
Growing parsley at home can be very easy and doable. It’s not expensive and would be a great project even for beginners. There are just few simple steps that you need to follow and you can read about them below.
1. Choose a Variety
There are three main varieties of parsley – curled leaf which is the common parsley, flat leaf or also known as Italian parsley and the last variety is also the least known, called Hamburg or turnip-rooted parsley. The first two are the ones that you will find among cooks. They are cultivated the same way and both taste great – it’s up to you to find which you prefer, so maybe planting them both is a great idea.
2. Get the Right Soil
The parsley requires a soil that has a pH between 6 and 7, so test your soil before you continue to planting the parsley. Considering the fact that the parsley also requires loose, light soil, you should get a soil mixture, made out of 50% potting soil with 50% compost for nutrients. This kind of soil will help the roots to attach better. You can add peat moss into the soil if it’s too basic.
3. Choose a Planter
Just like many of the herbs, the parsley can grow well in containers. It can be a mason jar, a small pot, whatever you choose just make sure that it will be compatible with the soil requirements, such as a container that will allow soil draining. If you choose to grow it outside, make sure to plant it in a sunny part of your garden!
4. Propagate the Seeds
Soak the seeds for one hour in mixture made out of lukewarm water and a splash of dish soap – this will help to dissolve the outer casing of the parsley seeds. Next step is to use a small strainer to pour out the water and run the seeds under lukewarm water again. After this step, the seeds should have no traces of soap and you should leave them overnight in a bowl of warm water, so that the germination process could go on. Dry them well before planting.
5. Plant the Parsley
The parsley seeds should be planted in spring after the last frost, in March or April the latest. After you choose your planting side in the garden, dig holes which should be approximately 10 to 12 inches apart and long enough that would allow the seeds to be sewn in 3-inch intervals. Parsley seedlings need space to grow, so make sure to give them what they need.
6. Water Regularly
You should water the parsley once in a week and even more frequently if the weather is dry and hot. If you can’t spend that much time on watering the plants, then you should consider setting up a drip system. However, the parsley is very adaptable and after the establishment becomes mostly drought – tolerant.
7. Thin Your Parsley
One of the most important things you’ll need to do for your parsley in order for it to grow well it’s to thin it out as time passes. This should be done when the parsley is about one inch tall. Thin the seedlings to 6″ to 8″ apart, by snipping the the parsley off near the soil line. Be careful not to pull the plants!
8. Use Fertilizer
As many other plants, the parsley might need a fertilizer so that it can get the needed nutrients and grow well. You can use a general purpose fertilizer once or go for more organic option and use compost – or even both. If the parsley has been lagging, then it might need more nitrogen, which helps plant foliage to grow strong.
9. Pests May Attack
Generally, the parsley is both pest and disease free, but it’s not immune to these so it might happen. It’s important to watch it every day, just in case that you could prevent anything on time. It is a delicious herb, so don’t be surprised if insects want to taste it too! Besides them, you might deal with fungal diseases, aster yellow, leaf spot, to name few. To prevent this, practice plant rotation and herb thinning.
10. Harvest and Store
Two months after sowing, your parsley should be ready for harvest. All you need to do is to cut off the outer stalks that are near the ground. If you cut off the leaves from the top of the plant isn’t a good idea, as it will just reduce the yield. For the best flavor, it’s better to harvest early in the morning. When it comes to storing, you have two options – freeze for later use or dry the parsley and keep it in airtight container.