In my ever conquering quest to get more people to grow their own fruit and veg, I thought I’d write a series of blog posts on individual plants to show you just how easy some are to grow.
You might find it useful, you might not. As always, let me know. I’ll only ever write about the plants I’ve personally gorwn so you know I’m not talking out my backside.
Today is the turn of a rather diverse herb – Parsley
This stuff is everywhere. You garnish with it on nearly every meal, or it’s added for you in the case of the supermarkets. It has a lovely rich green colour to look at and smells beautiful when just picked fresh.
Why grow Parsley?
You mean the above wasn’t enough reason? Okay okay. Well, although parsley isn’t a native herb to the UK I am pleased the Romans thought to bring it with them because it actually contains a lot of antioxidants which is the buzz word at the moment. It’s also proclaimed (not by me though) to boost your immune system and also has anti-inflammatory properties. So next time you sprinkle the parsley on your food, it’s more than just making your food look nice.
In terms of cost – jars of dried parsley are pretty expensive and if you use it every day it’s not long before that cost starts to really add up. One packet of parsley seeds could last you a whole year, if not two.
So, how to grow parsley?
- You can either buy it as a small plant from a garden centre
- Grow from seed. Currently the cheapest seeds I have managed to find a Poundshop came in at 59p, and while most have between 500 to 1,000 seeds a packet – that 59p is going to last well!
If you buy a small parsley plant from your local garden centre then it’s just a case of potting into a container you’re happy to see in your kitchen, or a pot close to your back door and away you go. Water when the soil becomes dry to touch, and leave to grow.
Growing from Seed
- Find a small pot, or seed tray. Add compost. Wet the compost thoroughly. Leave until all the water has drained through.
- Spread a few seeds onto the compost, don’t overcrowd, just space out evenly to the area you’ve got.
- Gently add compost covering the seeds lightly.
Now, this is where the important bit comes in.
Parsley needs constant high temperatures for the seed to germinate.
- Either add your pot to a heated propagator (if you have one), no? Forget that then. Or put a plastic cover over the pot. Those plastic sandwich bags are excellent for this purpose.
- Stand the pot on a windowsill in your sunniest room. Doesn’t have to get sun all the time but the pot needs to catch the sun when it does come through.
- Be patient!
Germination can take upto 3 weeks. Yup, three long weeks of waiting.
Also, don’t expect every seed sown to germinate. Of the 20 you may have just sown – only 5 to 10 of those seeds will germinate.
The warmer you can keep the pot, the higher the germination rates.
My experience – I planted some parsley seeds into a small pot in the middle of March. Of the 30 seeds sown, six germinated three weeks later. That was on a south facing windowsill.
You only actually need one plant to germinate, to make a plant.
So now it’s germinated
- Leave it in the pot until the second pair of leaves have grown. Then pot up the parsley into it’s final pot and place it where you want to watch it grow, and will be able to use it.
- By now the plant is big and strong and can take any windowsill you choose to place it. It doesn’t mind, honestly.
Don’t snip the entire head of parsley off in one go. Snip small and often, and snip from the outer stalks. That way the plant has a chance to recover and grow more leaves for you to use. A plant indoors should last you one whole season (April to Sept). Once you see any seed heads growing then it’s time to say good bye. You can of course use those seeds to grow further plants.
Water the plant (inside or out) when the soil feels dry to the touch.
You can add fertilizer if you want to but it’s not compulsory.
Pests and Diseases – Just the one – Slugs! If grown outside be sure to check the plant every night – especially after rain fall because these critters can ruin your plant very quickly.
Down the line
If the parsley is growing at a momentous speed at which you can’t keep up use for it then you’ve got two options.
- Snip off a few stalks, cut them up (scissors are best), and freeze them (pop straight into a freezer bag and seal).
- Snip off a few more stalks, cut them up and store in a small airtight (I mean really airtight) container and leave to dry out. This takes a couple of months.
That way you’ll always have parsley available to you to use in cooking and other uses (of which there are very many).
So what did you think? Was that useful at all or do I waffle too much? More importantly – does it make you want to grow parsley?