Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a biennial plant with bright green, featherlike leaves and is in the same family as dill. This herb is used in soups, sauces, and salads, and it lessens the need for salt in soups. Not only is it the perfect garnish, but it is also healthy; rich in iron and vitamins A and C.
Parsley seeds are slow to germinate when sown directly into the ground, taking about three weeks. Germination can be sped up indoors by sowing seeds 3-4 weeks before the last frost and placing where the temperature is a constant 70 degrees F. After germination, keep moist in a plastic bag for several days until first leaves appear. Remove the bag and keep in a sunny location and keep moist. Transplant when small to a sunny location.
For sowing directly in the garden, soak the seeds overnight, sow shallowly into moist ground, and keep well watered. Once in the garden, parsley responds well to a weak fertilizer every two weeks or so. This is especially important if it is cut for a harvest frequently.
Harvesting and Storing Parsley
Parsley is frequently used as a decorative addition to a plate of food, and it is a tangy addition to salads. When de-stemmed leaves are chopped in a blender with a little water (pack a 2 cup measuring cup with leaves, then fill with water), they can be frozen into ice cubes for later use. Parsley also makes a decorative hanging basket or pot, whether or not it is planned for eating. The green leaves can be dried quickly when spread on a cookie sheet and “cooked” at 400 degrees F for about 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes and do not let it burn, just crisp. Crumble the crisp leaves, remove any limp bits, allow to cool, then store in a tightly closed jar. Parsley does not dry well by hanging.