Questions On How To Grow Parsley? Not Anymore!

We are all very familiar with parsley, and we frequently use it as a garnish on our favourite foods. However, its utility extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal on a plate! Parsley has a wide range of culinary uses. It also has numerous health benefits as it is rich in vitamins, minerals, volatile oils, and antioxidants.

Fresh parsley in a pot
The good news is that you can grow parsley indoors as well as outdoors. And maybe you are a pro gardener and already know how to grow tomatoes, garlic, avocado or broccoli, but what about this one? In this guide, you will learn how to cultivate your own parsley at home, and we have also provided some tips on how to care for and harvest your parsley properly.

About parsley

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), a Mediterranean native, is a biennial plant with lacy, brilliant green leaves that can be tightly flat or curled. It is high in vitamin C and iron and is thought to help with foul breath and skin cleansing. 

Its leaves can be 10 – 25 cm long with several 1 – 3 cm leaflets and a taproot utilised as a food store over the winter. This plant is easy to grow in containers or borders, even in partial shade, and freshly picked leaves add depth and flavour to your cuisine.

The types of parsley are divided into four groups:

1. Curly leaf parsley

This is the typical type, that is easy to grow and looks lovely in any herb garden. Common varieties would include “forest green” and “extra curled dwarf”, which is a fast-growing, compact variety.

2. Flat-leaf parsley

This category comprises parsley cultivars with flat leaves that grow up to 90 centimetres tall. It has a stronger flavour than curly parsley. One of its most popular cultivars is “Titan”, which is a compact plant with deep green leaves.

Italian parsley on rustic board

3. Italian 

This type has a somewhat spicy flavour. “Giant of Italy”, with its exceptionally huge leaves, is a popular cultivar. It’s a good addition to a butterfly garden, just like other flat-leaved species.

4. Japanese 

It is an evergreen plant with a bitter flavour that is native to Japan and China. The stems are tough and can be eaten like celery.

When is the right time to plant parsley?

Early spring is the perfect season to plant parsley in the garden. You could also plant parsley in August, late summer. It can be planted directly in your vegetable garden or started indoors too. However, its taproots are sensitive, so be cautious while transplanting. Plant seeds in separate pots indoors 8 to 10 weeks before the last frost date to get a head start. Because parsley is a sluggish starter, sow seeds outside 3 to 4 weeks before the following spring.

Consider soaking them overnight to increase your chances of success because parsley seeds have a low germination rate. The soil temperature should be around 21°C for the greatest germination, though the seeds will grow at cooler temperatures as well.

How to plant parsley

Parsley thrives in organically rich, well-drained soil. Choose a location that receives direct sunshine, say, 6 to 8 hours of sunlight a day. Also, pick a weed-free area. By so doing, you’ll be able to see the parsley sprouting after about 3 weeks or so. 

Hand in white glove holding parsley seedling

Typically, the ideal time to sow parsley seeds would be the second week of March (UK average). It’s a good idea to soak the seeds in water for about 36 hours before sowing them. This will aid in the removal of some of the natural germination inhibitors that coat the seeds. Then this is what you have to do:

  1. Fill 8 cm wide pots almost to the brim with multi-purpose potting compost and set them in a shallow container of water. Allow the compost to absorb the water until it is wet to the touch. This could take up to an hour, depending on how dry the compost is.
  2. Fill the shallow container with any remaining water, then place the pots in it, allowing any excess water to drain from the compost. Put the pots in a warm place in the house for 24 hours to warm the compost in the pots. By “warm,” we mean 21°C to 27°C during the day.
  3. Sow six to seven seeds right on the compost’s surface. Then, cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost, just enough to keep the light out.
  4. Cover the tops of the pots with a plastic bag or loose cling film to keep the moisture in. This is because not only do seeds require a certain temperature to grow, but they also require a continual supply of moisture.
  5. Place them in a warm location (as previously stated, 21°C to 27°C) and wait for the seeds to germinate. This can take anywhere from five days to three weeks. After that time, it’s probably best to presume the seeds in the pot aren’t going to germinate and start sowing more.
  6. Remove the plastic bag/cling film as soon as the seeds germinate, and the leaves form on the surface of the compost and place the pots in a light and airy location out of direct sunlight – a windowsill is perfect.
  7. It’s critical to do this as soon as the parsley seedlings sprout, giving them full access to light and allowing air circulation to prevent fungal illnesses. Turn your plant slightly each day as it grows over the next few weeks to encourage it to grow upwards rather than towards the sun.Parsley plants
  8. When the seedlings are about 2 cm tall, cut off all but the strongest seedlings with a pair of small scissors. Pulling up the smaller seedlings will just disturb the surviving stronger ones’ roots. Maintain a light moisture level in the compost. No feeding is required until the plants are transported to their final placement.
  9. Finally, it is best to re-pot the plants in larger, deeper pots than the ones they came in. To allow the root to grow away freely, use 15cm pots that are deeper than normal. Plant them to the same depth in their new pots as they were in their old ones. Parsley will really grow slow at first, so just give it time.

Maintenance and care

Growing parsley doesn’t require much maintenance—just enough water and decent loamy soil (or fertiliser), and you are good to go. Growing parsley also has the advantage of having a tiny footprint. It doesn’t take up much room, so it’s a good choice for practically all gardeners.

1. Light

These plants are tolerant to a wide range of situations and can thrive in full sun to partial shade. If your growing region is particularly hot, afternoon shade is beneficial, though the plants should still receive at least eight hours of sunlight every day.

Parsley growing in the garden

2. Soil

Because parsley is grown for its leaves, it prefers organically rich soil. To keep the plant from being waterlogged, you should have the soil moist by applying mulch around it. Consider putting your parsley in a clay or terracotta vessel if growing in pots or containers, as this will help absorb excess moisture from the soil. Additionally, parsley grows best in soil that is neutral to mildly acidic in pH, ranging between 6.0 and 7.0.

3. Water

Watering plants the right way is always essential. Your plant will benefit from at least 2 to 4 centimetres of water per week if it is kept consistently moist (either from rainfall or watering methods). Allow your plant‘s soil to be moist at all times. This is because it does not tolerate dehydration and will quickly wither and brown.

4. Temperature and humidity

As long as it’s cultivated properly, parsley can flourish in a wide range of temperatures. However, temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius are ideal for the plant. If you reside in a particularly hot place in the summer, make sure to provide your plant with some extra shade or water to help it cope with the heat. 

Parsley in a pot

5. Fertiliser

Parsleys can benefit from a little fertilisation once or twice at the start of the growing season. However, it is not entirely necessary for their success. Use a well-balanced organic liquid fertiliser. Make sure to use something suited for edible plants. Alternatively, you can improve the nutrition of your soil type by adding a lot of organic matter and compost.

How to harvest parsley

Harvesting parsley is simple, but there are a few guidelines to follow in order to achieve the best yield and flavour:

  1. Choose the younger plants first. The flavour of parsley is strongest when it is young. Even though the leaves can be picked in their second year, picking them from a plant during the first year of growth will offer the best yield and product.
  2. Wait until there are three segments on the leaf stalks and examine the stems. The stems are ready for harvest when they have three or more bunches of leaves. One-or two-segmented stems should be left alone. Within 70 to 90 days of planting, the majority of these plants will be ready to harvest.
  3. Make a cut at the plant’s base. Instead of cutting from the top, snip the herb off near the base of the plant when collecting full stems or bunches of parsley. Cutting the parsley close to the ground encourages the plant to develop even more stems, resulting in bushier parsley with a higher yield.Human hands harvesting fresh parsley in the garden
  4. Remove the outer leaves using a knife. If you only need a few little sprigs of parsley right away, cut them from the outside of the plant rather than the inside. Removing them from the outside ensures that the oldest growth is picked, keeping it from browning or lingering on the plant for an extended period of time. Harvesting old growth also frees up resources for the plant to concentrate on growing and developing new growth.
  5. Harvest as often as possible. Even after you pick the leaves, parsley will continue to grow throughout the season. As a result, you can have a consistent supply of the herb rather than harvesting it all at once. 

How to store parsley

Freezing parsley is an excellent technique to preserve the often large harvest that this biennial herb may provide. Fortunately, freezing parsley and harnessing its beautiful herbal-yet-earthy flavour to use once the harvest is complete is simple. 

Whatever method you prefer, start with thoroughly clean and dry parsley leaves, as water may create damaging ice crystals. Rinse your fresh parsley with cool water and wipe it dry before freezing it:

Freezing in a bag

Simply double-bag the parsley and place it in the freezer, pressing out as much air as possible. You don’t need to cut the leaves off the stems before putting them in the bags. Once you’re ready to use it, simply snap off the leaves as needed. 

Frozen cubes with parsley on a wooden table

Freezing in cubes

In a blender or food processor(for more details about their differences, check our guide Food processors vs blenders: Are they really different?), whirl the parsley leaves (removed from the stems) with enough water or olive oil to form a thick puree. You can use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed.
Freeze in small closed containers or some ice cube trays. Once the parsley cubes are completely frozen, place them in a sealable plastic bag for long-term preservation. Allow them to thaw in a dish before using it as a garnish.

So, growing parsley is not only simple but has some extra benefits as well! It can be gathered at any time in your garden and is considerably fresher than parsley from the market. Oh! And it costs you less! What are you waiting for? Follow all the steps and tips that this guide has to offer and make it a part of your beautiful garden!

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