Grow Italian Parsley From Seed

http://www.motherearthliving.com/In-the-Garden/garden-giveaway-gigante-italian-parsley.aspx

PBHobson2Patsy Bell Hobson is a garden writer and a travel writer. For her, it's a great day when she can combine the two things she enjoys most: gardening and traveling. Visit her personal blog at http://patsybell.com/ and read her travel writings at http://www.examiner.com/x-1948-Ozarks-Travel-Examiner. 

I've never lived where parsley grew as a biennial. Parsley has always been an annual in my garden. Until last summer.

Instead of it growing about a foot tall, it grew to about three feet. Then, this over-achiever bloomed. That’s when its family tree became apparent.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a member of the carrot family. When it blooms, the family resemblance to its cousin, Queen Ann's Lace (Daucus carota), is striking.

This year, volunteer parsley have appeared where the giant grew and self-seeded last summer. The self-seeded plants came weeks ahead of the seeds I sowed. If you are content to let the parsley grow where ever it wants, you won't have to disturb the fussy tap root.

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Allow parsley to self seed for an earlier harvest.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

How To Preserve Parsley

• Wash and chop the leaves. Fill an ice cube tray with the leaves. Add water (or vegetable broth) to fill the cups of a plastic ice cube tray. Place in freezer until the cubes are frozen. Pop the cubes out and store in an airtight container in your freezer. Thaw when needed by dropping a cube into soup or sauce.

• You can make a parsley pesto in the same way you make your favorite version of basil pesto. Dry parsley if you must, but it's color is dull and the flavor is similar to notebook paper.

• Parsley butter will also preserve the color and flavor better than drying and freezes well. Read Herbal Butters and Oils: Garden Herb Butter to learn more.

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Remove the stems in recipes calling for fresh parsley.
Photo by Patsy Bell Hobson

Herbs in the Butterfly Garden

I always plant and grow twice as much parley as I need because parsley is a wonderful choice for attracting black swallowtail butterflies. Curley and flat-leaf parsley have a very high vitamin C content. It also contains vitamin A, B1, B2, calcium, iron, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.

Other herbs in a butterfly garden should include dill and fennel.

Parsley, dill and fennel are taking over my Zone 6 garden. If you let these herbs self-seed they will come up earlier and hardier than the seeds you sow this spring. If you are not obsessed with growing plants in staight lines or rows, the self-sown plants are a bargain. They don't all come up at once, which will extend your harvest season.

Seed Packet Giveaway!

My "Free Seed Packet" giveaways are attracting readers and the seed companies are very generous. I love introducing you to some of my favorite seed sources. In addition to the volunteer parsley, I am growing Italian 'Gigante' parsley from Renee's Garden.

There are a lot of new herb gardeners out there. So, when I mention seed sources, they consistently deliver the products they advertise on time with a generous seed count. Their seeds thrive in my garden. Renee's Garden has volunteered three packets of Italian 'Gigante' parsley. It is not too late to plant seed. Just be mindful of the moisture and never let the soil or seedlings dry out.

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HOW TO ENTER:

• Post a comment below that shares how you enjoy using parsley in your home. Courtesy Renee's Garden. 

End date: May 23, 2010 (12:00 AM, Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up!

And the winners are...

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Robert Smith in Sewickley, Pennsylvania

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Karen Bert in Port Angeles, Washington

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Theresa Guinan in Kirkwood, New York

Winners were chosen using www.random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.