Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), is a lot more than just a decorative green
on of a plate. In fact, it is one of the most nutritious of all herbs. An excellent
source of vitamins A and C, it also contains niacin, riboflavin and calcium.
Rich in chlorophyll, parsley is also a breath freshener.
Parsley's taste appeal is world-wide. The Japanese deep fry it, Greeks mix
large amounts with tomato sauce to create moussaka flavoring, and Spaniards use
parsley as the prime ingredient in salsa verde. Both the common (curly), and
Italian (flat-leaved) parsleys are ideal for garnishes and for flavoring soups,
stews, salad dressings, and sauces, but Italian parsley reportedly has the best
Parsley is so attractive that it also integrates easily into ornamental plantings.
Its fine-textured foliage is attractive as neat edging or foliage fillers in
flower beds, its rich green color setting off the bright blooms of pansies, petunias
and other annuals.
parsley is a biennial--its life spanning two seasons--it is usually treated as
an annual and pulled up at the end of the first season. That is why its flowers,
which appear in early summer of its second year, are seldom seen. They are flat
clusters composed of tiny, greenish yellow florets, and resemble Queen Anne's
lace. As with most herbs, flowering tends to make the foliage bitter and less
useful for cooking. However, parsley flowers host many beneficial insects, including
butterfly larvae, so it may be worth allowing some plants to overwinter and flower
the next season.
Parsley grows happily in a container alone, with
other herbs or with flowers, as long as it gets enough sun. Use one that is 12
inches or deeper and fill with Gardner & Bloome
Potting Soil to within 2 inches of its top. Mix in some Dr.
Earth Tomato Vegetable and Herb Fertilizer. Water often to prevent
container plants from drying out during hot summer days.
Begin harvesting parsley when it produces leaf stems with three segments.
Harvest the larger leaves at the outside of the plant first, leaving the new,
interior shoots to mature. To encourage bushier parsley plants pick only the
middle leaf segment of each main leaf stem. Store freshly picked, moistened sprigs
in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for 2 weeks. Chop leaves and blend with
water or stock then freeze in an ice cube tray for up to 6 months. Parsley also
dries well in a regular or microwave oven, although it loses some flavor. Store
dried parsley in an air-tight jar for up to a year.
Lastly, enjoy your freshly harvested parsley in any number of homemade culinary
delights, all year round.
Article adapted from the National Garden Bureau.