Parsley

Petroselinum crispum flat leaf parsley

Flat leaf parsley grows well in the winter garden here in the middle desert regions of the Southwest.

Special for Savor the Southwest October 2014 by Jacqueline A. Soule, Ph.D.

Ever notice that restaurants often provide a sprig of fresh parsley on each dinner plate? They may not even know why, but it is a holdover from Victorian times and parsley’s reputed value as a digestive aid. Most diners avoid this strongly flavored green, but they shouldn’t! It may well be the most nutritious thing on the plate! Rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6 B9 (folate), C, and K as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. Parsley also helps the body in manganese absorption, a mineral important in building and maintaining healthy bones.

Petroselinum crispum salad

In Europe, salads may consist of parsley, onion and tomato, lacking the salad greens often seen in American salads.

Parsley is one of those plants that is easy to add to the garden, or even just a pot on the patio. And now is the time to plant them! First – there are several parsleys to choose from. Curly leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum) or flat leaf parsley (P. neopolitanum), and popular for stews, parsley root (P. crispum var. tuberosum). All of these forms of parsley are members of the Carrot Family.   [[By the way, cilantro is als in the same family and can be grown just like parsley.]]

 

Petroselinum crispum var tuberosum root

One variety of parsley is grown for it’s root – tasty in stews and can be stored for months in a root cellar.

Soil. All carrot kin grow best in a well drained, even sandy, slightly acidic soil, rich in organic matter. That makes them easy to grow in containers. Use a pot one and a half feet deep. Potting soil with some added sand makes a good growing media.

Petroselinum crispum IMG_1371

Just a few plants of parsley can be enough so you don’t need a giant package of seeds.

Light. Six or more hours of winter sun to do well.

Plant. Parsley can be bought as a seedling from a nursery or grown from seed. One or two plants are usually enough for most families so seedlings might be a better option.

Water. Keep the soil relatively moist during establishment. You can let parsley dry a little more between water once they get larger. Some people believe this makes their flavors stronger.

Fertilizer. Parsley gets very lush and full with some fertilizer. However, if you amended your soil at the start you don’t need to purchase fertilizer. Plus, avoid fertilizing anything when frosts are a possibility. Come late February you could apply a half strength general purpose fertilizer.

Petroselinum neopolitanum curley parsley_PA_08

Curly leaf parsley grows well in the arid Southwest.

Harvest and Storage. Parsley tastes wonderful when fresh but loses much flavor when dried. Freezing the leaves retains more flavor. Select healthy leaves, rinse, pat dry but leave some moisture. Chop into roughly quarter inch squares and freeze in a labeled plastic bag or yogurt container. This can be used directly from the freezer.

Petroselinum_neapolitanum_flower

If you let your parsley flower, it should attract butterflies to your garden. Plus you will then get seeds to plant next year.

Not only does parsley look pretty on the plate and in the garden, it also attracts winged wildlife. Indeed, one species of swallowtail butterfly use parsley as a host plant for their larvae. Caterpillar are black and green striped with yellow dots, and will feast upon parsley for a brief two weeks before turning into lovely butterflies. Along with butterflies, bees visit the blooms. Seed eaters such as the lesser goldfinch also adore the seed. I let some parsley develop flowers and go to seed each year so the animals can enjoy it once I am done harvesting the leaves. And I save some seeds for replanting.

Petroselinum crispum seed crop

Do save some seed for next year. The best thing to plant in your garden is seed of what did well in your garden!

 

 

Note:  Jacqueline A. Soule has been writing about plants and growing in Tucson for decades. Her latest book “Southwest Fruit and Vegetable Gardening” (Cool Springs Press $22.99) is available at local bookstores and botanical gardens. (Call first though, some venues have been selling out.)

If you wish to receive timely tips for garden and landscape each week, Jacqueline produces weekly “tidbitts” available at: http://www.tidbitts.com/jacqueline-a-soule/gardening-with-soule

© 2014, Jacqueline Soule.  All rights reserved. I have received many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you are free to use a very short excerpt which must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Please use the contact me if you have any questions. JAS avatar

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Categories: Cooking, Gardening, herbs, medicinal plant | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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  1. Pingback: Pescado en Mole Verde, Spring Roots with Spicy Creamy Dip | Savor the Southwest:

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