Garden Giveaway: Grow Parsley, the Butterfly Magnet

http://www.motherearthliving.com/In-the-Garden/garden-giveaway-parsley-the-butterfly-magnet.aspx

PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is blogging at Oh Grow Up!  When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri USA. Read more travel stories at Striped Pot . Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook .   

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a biennial, meaning it takes two years to mature and reproduce. It is grown and used mostly in its first year. If you live in a Zone, or have a microclimate, where parsley will overwinter, encourage it to do so.

Parsley is a member of the carrot family. When it blooms in its second year, the family resemblance to its cousin Queen Ann's Lace (Daucus carota) is easy to see.

3-7-12-parsley-in-containers 
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson 

Parsley has always been an annual in my garden. Until recently. In the spring, last year’s parsley grew tall and fast. Instead of the usual plant that grows about a foot tall, this plant grew to about 3 feet. Then, this overachiever bloomed. That’s when its family tree became apparent; parsley is related to dill.

I always plant a lot of parsley because I love it and the butterflies love it. It makes me happy to see an invasion of parsley-eating caterpillars. They love dill and fennel, too.

3-7-12-caterpillar 
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson 

Once you see the hungry caterpillars, butteries are soon to appear. Your organic garden is attracting the black swallowtail butterfly. A chemical-free herb garden is a gourmet buffet for butterflies and pollinators.
 
Parsley contains vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium, iron, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. So, parsley is mandatory in my amazing and miraculous chicken soup. I stock up on parsley for my fabulous homemade soups. Substitute either for the other in any recipe.

3-7-12-parsley-in-jar 
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson 

Fresh is always better than dried parsley. But if you have an over abundance of fresh that you want to preserve for delicious soups, here's the best way to do it: Wash and chop the leaves, fill an ice cube tray with the leaves, add water or broth to fill the cups of the ice cube tray, and place them in the freezer until frozen. Pop the cubes out and store them in an airtight container in your freezer. I use a heavy duty zipper lock bag to store all the individual cubes. Thaw when needed, or just pop an ice cube or two into your soup or sauce.

My favorite summertime dishes have lots of parsley: chimichurri and tabbouleh. Use chimichurri on anything grilled, such as meat or vegetables. Normally, tabbouleh is a side dish, but when parsley and tomatoes are at their best, tabbouleh can be a main dish.

Be patient. It may take weeks before your parsley sprouts. Grow curly leaf and flat leaf parsley in the same way. Normal garden soil will support vigorous growth. Plants like moist soil, not wet soil. Provide full sun.

Seed Packet Giveaway 

Renee's Garden sells both flat leaf and curly leaf varieties. I grow both. I love the dark green extra curly seed, called “sweet curly,” imported from a French grower. And luckily for you, Renee's Garden has agreed to give away three packets of curly leaf parsley seed to Herb Companion readers. Winners will be selected randomly from comments. Look through Renee's online catalog for more herbs.

HOW TO ENTER 

• Post a comment in the comments section below telling us which parsley you prefer, flat leaf or curly leaf, and why.

End date: April 2, 2012 (12:00 a.m. Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up!

The winners have been contacted. They were chosen using Random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.