In the Garden:
Northern & Central Midwest
November, 2000
Regional Report

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Italian flat parsley looks great with ivy geraniums in a container. Plus, you can eat it!

I Love Parsley

I'm having a renewed love affair with parsley. That little sprig most of us push aside on the plate is actually a vitamin-packed food and tastes great. Right now my flat Italian parsley looks better than it's looked all summer. The cool, crisp nights and brisk days have spruced it up, and it just begs to be picked for pesto.

Parsley in Winter

One of the best things about parsley is that it remains green into winter. I've even had it come out the other end of snow season in early spring - a bit bedraggled but edible. Leaving the parsley plant in the garden until the following spring assures me that I'll have some leaves to harvest while the new ones I've seeded establish themselves. And, since parsley is a biennial, the plant sends up a seed stalk in midsummer. As a true biennial, the plant dies after the seeds ripen. I allow the seeds to ripen on the plant and harvest them like I'd harvest dill seeds. I haven't purchased parsley seeds in ten years.

Parsley in Containers

Aside from attractively edging the herb garden, both curly and Italian flat parsley grow really well in containers. I combined parsley with deep red ivy geraniums in a window box this year, and it was spectacular.

Parsley Basics

Parsley grows best in full sun, although it will do fine in partial shade. My plants in shade are just a bit looser and more open than the ones in full sun. My soil is of average fertility and very well drained, almost dry, so I make sure to give the plants plenty of water when they are young. After they're established, they take care of themselves until harvesting. Parsley is my kind of plant!

Parsley Beginnings

I start my parsley indoors in spring when I start lettuce and spinach, and the small plants are ready to go outdoors long before the last frost. I usually soak the seeds before planting, since their hard seed coat makes them take up to 2 weeks to germinate otherwise.

I have so much parsley this year that I've been washing and drying the leaves and putting them in the freezer - they don't need blanching. I can pull out handfuls of frozen parsley for cooking all winter.

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