Parsley is one of the most common herbs around and is both colourful and flavoursome and can add depth of character and extra taste to your cooking.
Types of Parsley
There are several varieties of Parsley that can be grown and these are often to be found in seed catalogues and on the shelves in both nurseries and supermarkets alike. You can purchase the seeds to grow Parsley in your local supermarket and they are normally to be found in the condiment aisle along with the other herbs and spices that can be grown in your garden or greenhouse.
Some varieties of Parsley have leaves that curl and these particular types of Parsley are those which are used for decorative purposes. Likewise the varieties of Parsley which look much plainer – i.e. without curling leaves – offer up the most flavour and are used in cooking as opposed to a decoration on the plate.
Growing Your Own Parsley
If you are looking for a summer crop of Parsley for use in those salads on warm days then April is the best time to plant your seeds. You should sow them in around half an inch of soil and water liberally.
If your aim is for a winter crop then you should consider planting the seeds in mid to late August so that it will be ready in time. Parsley has a slow germination cycle and it can sometimes seem as though nothing is happening. It may take anything up to three months before those first green shoots appear through the soil.
When planting your Parsley try to plant it in rich soil that has some light and some shade also; these conditions make it ideal for the herb to grow. You should also sow the seeds around eight to nine inches apart to allow for growth outwardly as well as upwardly.
Watering and Trimming
Ideally you should water your Parsley only in dry weather where rainfall is in short supply; again in the winter it is worth covering it over with a plastic frame or some straw to keep out the frost.
Parsley also produces flowering stems and these should be removed as they will stunt the growth of the herb itself. You can however leave a few behind if you are planning to grow more Parsley in August in time for winter as they will seed and produce self-sown plants.
Picking and Preserving
Even though you may not need to use it straight away you should pick the Parsley regularly so as not to stunt the growth of the plant. Once you have picked it you should dip it in warm water for roughly a minute and a half to two minutes and then dry it off in the oven. The best time to dry it in the oven is after you have used the oven and it has begun to cool down. This allows the Parsley to dry out and become crisp which allows for easy crushing with a rolling pin or pestle and mortal. It can then be stored in a jar or air tight container until required.