Parsley is a cool season biennial herb that is frost tolerant. Therefore, it is hardy and produces seeds in the 2nd year, so it is most often grown as an annual. Although the flavor is best in the first year, we implore you keep some second year plants and let them flower — butterflies love them.
Fresh chopped parsley brings a fresh lively flavor to both cold and cooked dishes. Add it as a last ingredient, and the bright green also provides visual appeal. Parsley is a popular ingredient in herbal blends.
Dried parsley loses virtually all of its flavor, so we like to harvest and freeze any remaining parsley in the fall before the first frosts. The leaves are chopped and wrapped in individual packets of plastic wrap with a couple of tablespoons in each. During the winter these packets are a welcome addition to finish off a soup, chicken cutlets, and lamb shanks. Our favorite way to use them is in Spaghetti with White Clam Sauce. With the parsley in your freezer, clams and pasta in the cupboard, garlic and a bit of white wine or dry vermouth, this is an easy dish to prepare with on-hand ingredients. The stems are frozen separately and used in soups and stocks.
Curly leaf parsley is a pretty edible ornamental in the garden and makes a nice border plant in the vegetable garden. Italian style flat leaf parsley, however, has better flavor and is preferred by most chefs.
- Cool season biennial herb grown as an annual.
- Plant where you want it to grow or transplant when still young. Once it matures, it resents being moved.
- Seed has a reputation for being slow to germinate. We've never found it an issue, but others like to speed it up by soaking the seeds overnight in warm water.
- Direct sow in the garden in early spring when there is a still a chance of a light frost.
- Seed planting depth: 1/4”.
- Seed spacing: 4 - 12”.
- Ideal germinating temperature is 50 - 85 ° F.
Planting and Tending
- Once established, plants need little water.
- Requires no fertilizing.
- Cut as needed. To keep plants productive, cut back the full length of the outside stems and remove flower stalks as they appear from plants. Cut back the top growth up to 6" below the ends.
- Can be planted anywhere in the garden.
- Repels asparagus beetle.
- Flowers of second year plants attracts butterflies and other beneficial pollinators.
- Plant near:
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You may also appreciate these books on growing herbs.