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How to grow parsley

Some people think growing parsley is difficult. It is not, parsley can be grown even by clumsy gardeners.

People often say that parsley is difficult to grow. The reason it appears slow to germinate, is that it's a biennial plant.

What that means, is that it takes two years to complete its life cycle. It germinates in year one, puts on leaf growth, makes strong roots and then flowers in year two. It then seeds and dies.

It can take between 10 days and 8 weeks to germinate like most perennial plants.

We use parsley's leaves, we're not interested in its flowers, but your parsley plant doesn't know that, so it takes its own sweet time to germinate. Alongside the annual plants that you grow, it appears to be 'difficult'. So just exercise a little patience while you wait for the seeds to grow.

So, how to grow parsley?

Well, it likes a warm soil. Some people pour hot water onto the soil just prior to sowing the seed, which gets it off to a good start.

For indoor growing, just take a pot of good compost, water it well and then sprinkle some seed on top, cover with some fine compost, lightly spray water onto it, then put it in a dark place to germinate. You can cover the pot with a poly bag and put an elastic band around the rim of the pot to keep it in place.

This makes a kind of mini greenhouse and keeps the moisture in. Check the pot every few days to see that the soil is moist and watch for emerging seedlings.

Once they begin to come through, remove the bag and allow the seedlings to grow on a bit in the light. When they're big enough to handle, then put one plant to a pot or plant them outdoors.

If you're planning to put your plants outdoors, then sow in spring to go out late spring, early summer. Leave about 8 inches between each plant to allow it to spread.

You can sow directly into the ground if you prefer. Parsley likes a heavy soil, if the soil is light, it grows 'leggy'. Once they germinate, then thin to 8 inches apart. If you water them well prior to thinning, then you can replant them.

If you're wanting parsley for indoor use, then you can sow seeds any time of year and just keep the plant in an unheated porch or somewhere similar. It doesn't like a lot of heat.

Just before the winter starts, trim all the leaves off your spring sown parsley. You can chop this parsley and put it into ice trays with a spot of water - then you can use these through the winter.

Parsley will over winter outdoors, but it will need protection, a cloche if you have one is ideal. If you sow some seed in July, then it will germinate by winter and you've got parsley outdoors to see you through the winter months.

The leaves are smaller in the first year of growth, but the taste is superior to the second year growth. Parsley's job in the second year is to put its effort into creating flowers and reproducing.

You can leave a couple of plants to flower and self seed if you like, then you will have a continual supply of parsley. All you'll have to do, is keep the area tidy and weed free.

Parsley is a most versatile herb. You can use it in sauces, as a garnish, deep fried or chopped into butter. It is rich in iron, calcium and vitamin C.