Like salt, parsley is a seasoning that complements other flavors. The herb does this so reliably that it is usually taken for granted. This lack of praise around the table is not reflected in medical folklore, where parsley is believed to be an effective remedy for rheumatism and lethargy.
In recent years, in fact, the sales of parsley capsules have increased right alongside the consumption of garlic.
We cannot attest to the curative properties of parsley. However, we do know that it does for the palate what many say it does for the body: cleanse and refresh. With its insinuations of camphor and citrus, and its delicate peppery crunch, parsley cuts fat and lends a vigorous zing to almost any dish.
Parsley is the herb of herbs: a hardy, prolific plant that has been growing for thousands of years all over the world. Curly-leaved parsley is a wonderful, attractive garnish with its textured leaves. But the flat-leaved variety often paired with butter, lemon, and garlic has a stronger flavor and is more useful in the kitchen.
How to Plant Parsley Seeds
Parsley is best planted in early spring to the start of summer in free-draining, well-prepared soil. The plant will thrive under full sun or partial shade. Sow the seeds in ½-inch deep trenches. Cover the trench with soil and then water the plot. When the young plants are large enough to handle, thin the seedlings so that they are six inches apart. You should allow around the same distance between rows.
You can grow parsley in containers, as well. Sow the seeds sparsely across a 10-inch pot filled with seed compost. Cover the seeds with a ½ inch layer of compost and water. For best results, situate the container in a cool spot for germination. Make sure the compost does not dry out. You should see the first signs of green within six weeks. Once the seedlings are established, thin them so that the plants are three-quarters of an inch apart.
Care, Maintenance, and Harvesting
Keep the plants well-watered. Parsley demands much water, especially during dry weather. You can enhance the growth of your plants with regular doses of seaweed fertilizer. Be sure to cut back any yellowing foliage.
You can harvest parsley as needed, cutting the stems at the base so that new leaves grow back quickly. Experienced gardeners grow several plants. This allows them to harvest from one plant while another produces new growth.
Without regular pruning, your plants will begin to produce flowers in their second year. You can remove the flowers to extend the cropping life of the plants or you may allow them flower. The latter will permit you to save seeds.
Because it belongs to the carrot family, parsley is prone to some of the pests that affect carrots. These include the carrot fly. Growing the herb alongside garlic or onions will help deter the pest from your parsley beds.