Sunday Food: Do Eat the (Parsley) Garnish

The Garnish

(Photo courtesy of Bacon and Tofu photostream on flickr.com.)

OT/ Incidentally, laissez les bontemps rouler!   Skip the King cake.

Most of us usually have some fresh parsley growing somewhere if we garden at all, don’t we?   I very seldom let myself go for long without a fresh plant on hand, and it’s not for decoration.

Maybe it’s superstition, but I toss a little parsley into just about everything except dessert.   It’s also a little habit I learned back in the dark ages, that a bite of parsley freshens your breath, and no one ever complained about anyone’s breath being too fresh.   Not that I know of, anyway.

There are a few tricks to growing your own parsley, and one is mulch.

As with most herbs, parsley does best in a sunny area which receives direct light for 6-8 hours a day, although it can tolerate some light shade. Plants will be more productive if grown in well drained soil that is fairly rich in organic matter, with a pH range of 6.0-7.0.

Although germination is notoriously slow, seed propagation is the easiest way to start plants. The rate of germination is dependent upon seed freshness, ranging from 2-5 weeks. To help hasten the process, soak the seeds in warm water for up to twenty-four hours prior to planting.

Seeds can be started indoors in the late winter approximately 6-8 weeks ahead of the last frost date. Seeds can also be sown directly in the ground where they are to be grown, after danger of spring frosts has passed. Cover seeds with 1/8 inch of soil, and keep them moist. Since germination is so slow, it’s a good idea to mark the rows. Emerging seedlings will appear almost grass-like, with two narrow seed leaves opposite each other. Thin or transplant seedlings when they are 2-3 inches high. Final spacing should be 10-12 inches apart.

Do not allow the plants to dry out completely between waterings in the garden. Water deeply at least once a week to insure the roots are receiving enough moisture during the growing season. A light mulch of ground up leaves or grass clippings will help retain moisture and keep weeds to a minimum.

When I put a pot of parsley out on my porch, it’s not just pretty.   It’s my touch of freshness in anything I cook, and/or eat.   I want never to have a dish that doesn’t have any slight fresh growing thing in it.

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