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Growing Parsley - advice on how to grow Parsley

Growing Parsley can be slightly more of a challenge when compared to growing other herbs but it should still be a relatively simple process. Parsley is one of the most popular herbs that are grown in english and mediterrenean herb gardens. Parsley can be used for flavouring or as a garnish. It is also a good source of nutrition and can be used for neutralising strong smelling breath (Garlic springs to mind). 

Although Parsley is a biennial herb it is normally grown as an annual as results after the first year are poor.

Sowing

Growing Parsley requires more patience than other herbs as it has a long germination period - around 3 to 4 weeks. Germination of Parsley requires warm temperatures so a warm room is advised rather than outside. Because germinating parsley is trickier than most herbs you may wish so station sow a number of seeds in a 4 inch pot in case some seeds don't germinate. If a number of seeds germinate in one pot thin all but the strongest one seedling.

Parsley can be moved outside if required and can be transplanted into containers or well dug soil. If growing outside then sow your plants indoors about 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to move them outside.

Position

Parsley requires a good amount of light and will do best when receiving around 6 hours of sun a day but will tolerate partial shade.

Soil type

Parsley likes a well drained, moisture retaining soil. If growing in containers ensure that it has adequate drainage holes and that they aren't blocked. Parsley is slightly more fussy about its soil requirements than most herbs, a soil rich in rotted organic matter with good levels of nutrients will result in a good crop.

Parsley will grow well in a soil that is pH 6.0- 7.0

If growing indoors then a normal potting compost will be sufficient.

Tending

Ensure the soil does not dry out - water more frequently in summer. You can add a mulch to the soil to reduce soil moisture loss and reduce competing weeds.

A fertliser can be applied to the soil around every 4 weeks and this should sustain growth through the growing season.

Outside plants can be dug up and brought inside to extend their growing season. After the first year parsley will start to produce seed at which point the plant is of no use for harvesting purposes.

Harvesting

You can harvest Parsley fresh - both the stalks and leaves can be eaten. If you want to store or preserve your parsley you can dry it or freeze it as illustrated in our article on drying and storing herbs.

Cut the outermost stalks just above ground level. This will encourage further growth. Cutting near the top of the stalks will not encourage such vigourous regrowth.

Varieties

Both flat leaved parsley and curly leaved parsley varieties are available.