Plain Italian Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Very hardy, dark green, disease resistant, full flavored and sweet. Parsley seeds can be difficult to start, but don't be discouraged! They often take 3-4 weeks to germinate and then grow very slowly. Parsley may be grown from seed sown early indoors and transplanted outside after frost, directly sown, or planted as a potted plant.
Sowing Seed Indoors:
- Sow parsley seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost in spring using a seed starting kit
- Sow seeds ¼ inches deep in seed-starting formula.
- Keep the soil moist at 70 degrees F
- Seedlings emerge in 14-21 days.
- As soon as seedlings emerge, provide plenty of light on a sunny windowsill or grow seedlings 3-4 inches beneath fluorescent plant lights turned on 16 hours per day, off for 8 hours at night. Raise the lights as the plants grow taller. Incandescent bulbs will not work for this process because they will get too hot. Most plants require a dark period to grow, do not leave lights on for 24 hours.
- Seedlings do not need much fertilizer, feed when they are 3-4 weeks old using a starter solution (half strength of a complete indoor houseplant food) according to manufacturer’s directions.
- If you are growing in small cells, you may need to transplant the seedlings to 3 or 4 inch pots when seedlings have at least 3 pairs of leaves before transplanting to the garden so they have enough room to develop strong roots.
- Before planting in the garden, seedling plants need to be “hardened off”. Accustom young plants to outdoor conditions by moving them to a sheltered place outside for a week. Be sure to protect them from wind and hot sun at first. If frost threatens at night, cover or bring containers indoors, then take them out again in the morning. This hardening off process toughens the plant’s cell structure and reduces transplant shock and scalding.
- Sow seeds when all danger of frost has passed in spring. In frost-free areas, sow from fall to early spring.
- Sow seeds thinly and cover with ¼ inch of fine soil.
- Firm soil and keep moist.
- Seeds emerge in 14-21 days.
- Thin to 6 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches high.
Planting in the Garden:
- Select a location in full sun with rich, well-drained soil.
- Parsley is superb as a border plant or as an underplanting for roses, and grows easily in containers.
- Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
- Dig a hole for each plant large enough to amply accommodate the root ball.
- Carefully remove the plant from its pot and gently loosen the root ball with your hands to encourage good root development.
- Set the plants 10-12 inches apart.
- Place the top of the root ball even with the level of the surrounding soil. Fill with soil to the top of the root ball. Press soil down firmly with your hand.
- Use the plant tag as a location marker.
- Thoroughly water and apply a light mulch layer on top of the soil (1-2 inches) to conserve water and reduce weeds.
- Harvest the outer leaves by cutting them at the base of the leafstalk. Harvest leaves as needed.
- Sprigs are delicious in salads and make an excellent accent for vegetables and potatoes. Chewing on a fresh leaf can freshen your breath.
- Fresh parsley may be stored in zip lock bags in the fridge for a week. Fresh leaves freeze well in ice cubes or sealed zip lock bags, and may also be dried. It can be used in vinegars as well, or made into parsley herbed butter.