I love parsley. It is probably my favourite herb and something I’m always happy to have a nibble of. Whenever I find it sitting on a plate pretending to be a garnish I always eat it – you just can’t let good parsley go to waste. I do sometimes wonder whether garnishes are recycled in restaurants, whether the waiting staff take the parsley off returned plates, carefully wash it (or not) and put it on the next customers. Perhaps this never happens but I still find the whole eating the garnish thing slightly subversive.
“Italian Plain Leaf” is a flat leaf parsley variety and I have to admit it is the only flat leaf variety I’ve ever grown. Whether there are better flat leaf varieties I couldn’t say but I can tell you that I’m pretty happy with this one.
I sow my parsley seed (usually seed I have saved) in late winter. This is because, in my micro-climate, I find that sowing it too early means it often bolts in Spring. Sowing seed later than winter means I have too big a gap between last years crop going to seed and the new year’s crop isn’t big enough early enough to harvest from over summer. (I find any gap at all difficult to cope with I love it so much…) As a result late winter seems to be the perfect time to sow seed.
I also have quite a bit of self seeded parsley in the garden but as they aren’t always in the right places I try and ensure I sow seed every year. I sow seed into seed trays and then pot up when the seedlings have at least two true leaves. When I pot up I tend to try and put about three seedlings bunched together in each pot. This is because parsley can be a little slow to get going and it gives me bigger ‘plants’ to harvest from earlier in the season. You can sow plant and sow parsley any time of the year in Melbourne though so if you haven’t already planted some out there is still time to get a decent crop before it bolts in Spring. Or perhaps there is a variety that doesn’t bolt?
I don’t prepare the soil in any particular way for parsley, I grow it in both well fertilised beds and less prepared soil and find it generally does OK regardless. I also find that it grows well in both sun and fairly shady sites. I have some plants in positions where they only get a few hours of afternoon sun everyday and they seem happy enough.
You can grow it pots or in the ground but I tend to favour the ground as it can get quite big, especially if you are aiming for tabouleh level quantities. If you do grow it in a pot then I would recommend a pretty big one, or perhaps choose a curly leaved variety as they tend to be smaller.
Occasionally I am asked what the other differences between the flat leaf and curly parsley varieties are. To me the main differences are texture and flavour. Flat leaf has a stronger flavour and the texture is better for dishes with a lot of parsley in them – tabouleh for instance. Curly parsley tends to be hardier (but you would have to live in a climate cooler than Melbourne for that hardiness to be needed) and looks prettier both as a plant and a garnish. I generally find flat leaf parsley to be more useful from a culinary perspective, my favourite uses for parsley being tabouleh, in puttanesca sauce, in salsa verde, in pesto, as a soup, in stocks, to finish stews and casseroles, in fact in pretty much any Meditteranean style dish.
Do you grow flat leaf parsley? What do you grow and what do you use it in?
(Apologies for the delay in this weeks post. I went to footy yesterday and was too exhausted/excited (wrangling a 3 year old who wants to go home at quarter time can be quite tiring…) to finish this one. A big YAY for the Mighty Dons!)
Saturday Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting particular varieties of edible plants. If you have a favourite, or even a less than successful variety of a plant and would like to include it in the series then please leave a comment with a link below. I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date. I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index.
New Spotlights last week were:
Pennsylvania Dutch Crooknecked Squash – Our Happy Acres
and from this week:
Red Kuri or Potimaron Squash – My Little Garden Project
Melons – Bek’s Backyard