Parsley is an excellent herb that’s easy to grow, looks great, is high-yielding, and is very nutritional. Pest and disease-free for the most part, it’s really the perfect addition to every garden. In this post, I’ll cover How to Grow, Plant, and Harvest Parsley.
VARIETIES OF PARSLEY
Parsley consists of three major varieties: curled leaf or common parsley, flat-leaf or Italian parsley, and the lesser-known Hamburg or parsley root. Curled parsley has a more ruffled appearance than flat-leafed parsley, but both are equally lush. Parsley root is cultivated for the root and not the leaves.
SITE & SOIL
Set plants in full sun or partial shade, and rich, moist soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. If you are still working on your soil you can improve the quality of the soil by mixing in some aged compost with the top layer of existing soil before planting. Or, if you prefer to grow parsley in pots, fill them with an organic potting mix.
SHOULD I PLANT PARSLEY SEEDS OR PLANTS?
If you are trying to decide between buying plants or seeds I say go for seeds. Parsley is very easy to grow and grows quickly. We usually let our plants go to seed. then we collect a large portion of the seeds to re-plant. I also like to start some inside about 3 weeks before I plan to put it outside. We like to plant enough to use, dry and for the caterpillars to enjoy.
HOW TO GROW PARSLEY
Seeds can be sown in the spring when the soil temperature reaches 50 F. Although hardy, parsley goes to seed in its second year, so it is usually treated like an annual. Thankfully here in Texas the plants usually grow year-round if I remember to cover them up when it freezes.
Water weekly if it doesn’t rain. You want to make sure you never let parsley dry out completely. 3-4″ of mulch will help keep the soil moist but don’t cover the crown of the plant or the plant will risk getting rot.
Gather parsley stems and leaves as needed. Harvest parsley by cutting the leafy stems from the base of the plant—this will also serve to make the plant grow back bushier. Never cut more than 20% of the plant.
HOW TO USE PARSLEY IN THE KITCHEN
Parsley pairs well with meat and egg dishes, potato and pasta dishes, vegetables, rice, salads, and soups, as well as cottage cheese and herb butter. Add chopped parsley to a dish near the end of the cooking process or sprinkle it on vegetables or salads immediately before serving to keep the fresh flavor.
In this video, I show you how easy it is to dehydrate fresh parsley, either from your garden or the grocery store. Dehydrating parsley in a dehydrator is quick, easy and it preserves the color and flavor of the parsley.
Fresh parsley should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped loosely with paper towels. Dried parsley should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Parsley can also be frozen.
SAVING SEEDS FOR PLANTING
Parsley is an annual in the North, growing from spring until freezing weather. In milder climates, it is frost-proof and lives through winter. The second spring after planting, the plant blooms, goes to seed, and then finally gives out. When you see it send up a flower stalk you stop harvesting the leaves because they will be bitter. After the bloom goes to seed collect the seeds and store for up to five years.
TROUBLESHOOTING WHEN GROWING PARSLEY
Parsley (along with dill and fennel) is a favorite food of the brightly striped parsley worm caterpillar, which becomes the treasured black swallowtail butterfly. Some gardeners, like Scott and I, plant enough parsley for us and the beautiful butterflies-to-be, which are likely to appear in late summer and fall. While parsley worms may eat much of the plant, they won’t kill it and giving them habitat is worth it. A serious pest, though, is the whitefly. To get rid of it, spray the undersides of the leaves thoroughly with insecticidal soap.
Be sure to check out all of our other herb videos and articles. If you’re ready to delve deeper check out our herb course. How to effectively harvest, clean, and preserve your fresh