Parsley seeds can be difficult to start. They often take three to four weeks to germinate and then grow very slowly. If you only want a few parsley plants, it’s easiest to buy them as small plants from a nursery. If you are determined to start your own from seed, soak the seeds in warm water overnight before planting.
Parsley grows best in cool soil and will tolerate some shade. In hot climates the plants will benefit from afternoon shade. Although you can start harvesting parsley any time, you can expect the plants to mature in about 75 days.
Parsley is available in two basic forms: flat-leafed (also called Italian) and curly-leafed. Curly-leafed is the most attractive, and is often used as a garnish in restaurants. It can even be used in flower arrangements. Most cooks prefer the flat leafed type, believing it to be more flavorful.
Parsley is a biennial, so there is no need to worry about it going to seed in the first year. If your parsley plant survives the winter in your garden, or if you decide to bring it indoors, you can expect to get about a month of usable leaves in early spring before the plant sends up a flower stalk, goes to seed and then dies.
Parsley freezes well (chop it in a food processor and freeze it in plastic bags) and it also dries well. To dry parsley, use a food dehydrator at a low temperature, or put it on a rack in the oven with the pilot light on. Store dried parsley in an airtight container, away from sunlight.
Parsley doesn’t have a problem with cold temperatures. In the fall, you can use or store what you need, and leave the plant right in the ground. Even in cold parts of the country you should be able to go outside on Thanksgiving Day and pick some– even if you have to shovel snow off the plants.
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