Indulge your Passion for Parsley

Green Patch


| August/September 2005



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Topical Gardening Tips

Question: I love parsley, and I have heard that it can be sown in fall and grown through winter. Are there any special things I need to do to make this project successful in my Zone 6 garden?

Answer:Most gardeners grow parsley (Petroselinum crispum) as an annual, but it actually is a hardy biennial. Parsley’s natural life cycle is to germinate in late summer, persist as a seedling through winter, and then produce flowers and seeds the following spring. It will follow this natural rhythm in a garden quite easily if you help the seeds to germinate promptly — and then provide the plants with protection to buffer them from the ravages of winter.

Of the two types of parsley most often used — curly parsley and flat-leafed Italian parsley — curly parsley leaves have a higher dry-matter content, so they withstand freezing weather a little better than Italian parsley, which has juicier leaves. All types of parsley are generally rated as hardy to Zone 5 or 6, but I think the curled varieties are best for growing from fall to spring.

Late summer to early fall is the ideal time to sow parsley seeds, which have a well-deserved reputation for germinating slowly. In more superstitious times, parsley seeds were believed to travel to hell and back several times before they would sprout. Virgins were not to sow them lest they risk impregnation by the devil — this despite the fact that early Christians consecrated parsley to St. Peter, keeper of heaven’s gates.

A FEW LIGHT FROSTS ARE GOOD FOR PARSLEY, BECAUSE THEY TRIGGER THE PLANTS TO ALTER THEIR LEAF CHEMISTRY IN PREPARATION FOR COLDER WEATHER TO COME.





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