Growing parsley leaves and roots is essential for any home gardener or culinary enthusiast. Parsley is a versatile herb that adds a fresh and aromatic flavor to a wide range of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and sauces.
This guide will cover everything you need to know about planting, nurturing, and harvesting both parsley leaves and roots. Whether you want to add some greenery to your windowsill or create a thriving herb garden, this guide will give you the knowledge and tips to cultivate healthy and flavorful parsley plants.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) belongs to the Umbelliferae family (Apiaceae). It originally comes from southern Europe. For more than 400 years, the herb has been used to refine soups, vegetables, and sauces for fish and meat.
There are parsley varieties with smooth leaves and curly leaves. All types contain numerous minerals, including calcium, iron, and essential oils. The plant is also known for its high content of vitamins A, B, and C.
What does parsley look like?
Parsley is a biennial herb. In the first year, a rosette forms, about 30 cm high, consisting of pinnate, dark green leaves. Below the ground is a beet-shaped root. Leaves arise from this, which are wedge-shaped or egg-shaped, lobed or pinnate, depending on the variety.
In June of the second year, a 60 cm high flower stalk appears, on which the yellow-green umbel flowers develop. The seeds then grow from the fertilized flowers in autumn. After flowering, the parsley stops growing and can no longer be used.
Growing parsley from seed
If you want to sow parsley, you should be patient. Because for a harvest in summer and autumn, it is advisable to sow the seeds in the bed as early as mid-March. In cooler regions, planting in April is recommended. If you still want to harvest in winter, you can sow in the greenhouse until the end of July.
A row spacing of 20 cm to 30 cm is ideal. The seeds are placed 1 cm to 2 cm deep under the soil and then germinate for up to four weeks. Meanwhile, keep the soil evenly moist and as weed-free as possible. To support them, you can cover the seeds with fleece or perforated foil during germination.
Plant partners for parsley are, for example, spinach, tomatoes, and chard. On the other hand, you should not plant lettuce and carrots nearby. In addition, parsley may only be sown every four to five years on the same bed for a high-yield harvest.
Alternatively, parsley can also be grown in seed trays or pots. You can start as early as mid-January. Ensure it’s warm enough: 25°C is ideal so the seeds don’t get wet. After that, a temperature of 15 °C is sufficient to harden the small plants before releasing them outdoors in April.
How to grow parsley indoors
Growing parsley indoors is an easy and rewarding task that can provide you with fresh herbs year-round. Follow these steps to grow parsley successfully indoors:
Choose a container: Select a container at least 6 inches deep with good drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. You can use a terracotta pot or any other container that suits your decor.
Soil preparation: Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix rich in organic matter. Add some perlite or sand to improve drainage if necessary.
Sow parsley seeds: Sow parsley 1/4 inch deep in the potting mix, spacing them 2 inches apart. Lightly press the seeds into the soil and cover them with a thin layer of the potting mixture.
Watering: Water the container thoroughly, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season.
Light and Temperature: Parsley needs at least six hours of bright, indirect sunlight daily. Place the container near a south-facing window or under a grow light. Parsley prefers cooler temperatures, around 65 to 70°F (18-21°C).
Fertilizing: Feed your parsley plants with a balanced fertilizer once a month during the growing season to promote healthy growth.
Harvesting: Harvest parsley leaves as needed by snipping them off the outer stems. Leave the inner stalks and leaves to continue growing.
Parsley is a moisture-loving plant but does not tolerate waterlogging. The soil around the plant should be loosened regularly with a hoe to help the plant sprout again after harvest. It also helps keep weeds away.
If you have prepared the bed well with compost, parsley will no longer need fertilization later.
Harvesting and storing parsley
You can harvest parsley from late spring, as the leaves constantly grow. First, cut off the outer leaves with scissors to allow them to grow back. But be careful: If the plant has already flowered, the leaves will become inedible.
You can use the chopped leaves fresh for soups and sauces or sprinkle them in quarks, on salads, or over potatoes; This is best done in the freezer if you want to preserve the fresh parsley. After harvesting and washing, the leaves must be dried to freeze them later when chopped. Another option is to dry the parsley.
In contrast to curly parsley, the varieties of flat-leaf parsley are generally considered very aromatic and rich in vitamins.
- Flat-leaf Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum): This variety has flat, glossy leaves and a stronger flavor than curly-leaf parsley.
- Curly-leaf Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. crispum): This variety has tightly curled leaves and a milder flavor than flat-leaf parsley.
- Hamburg Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum): This variety produces edible root vegetables that have a parsley-like flavor.
- Italian Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum): This variety is a flat-leaf parsley with a more robust flavor than other parsley varieties.
- Japanese Parsley (Cryptotaenia japonica): Also known as mitsuba, this variety has a unique flavor often described as a mix between parsley and celery.
Each variety of parsley has unique flavor, appearance, and culinary uses, so it’s worth experimenting with different types to find your favorite.
Flat-leaf parsley is generally more susceptible to disease than its curly-leaved counterpart. You are troubled by so-called nematodes (roundworms). A sign that the parsley is affected are red colored leaves from June.
Also quite widespread is the fungal disease Septoria leaf spot. Brown spots with black spores appear on the leaves. A countermeasure is to treat the seeds with hot water.
Downy mildew can also occur in autumn. Sufficient planting distance and regular crop rotation counteract this.
Origin of parsley root
Parsley root ( Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum), also known as root or tuber parsley, originally comes from the eastern Mediterranean and North Africa. Sometimes West Asia is also mentioned as an origin.
Root parsley is a subspecies of leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. crispum). The strongly thickened root is characteristic of the parsley root; This is edible and, thanks to its slightly sweet and spicy taste, is popular as part of the soup greens.
Parsley root is often confused with parsnip because of its appearance. Both turnips are native winter vegetables and are yellowish-white in color. However, there are differences: The parsnip is longer and wider. The taste is reminiscent of carrots and celery. Compared to the parsley root, the parsnip tastes milder. The characteristic parsley aroma is missing from the parsnip.
In addition, the base of the leaf on the parsley root curves upwards, which is visible. Parsnips, on the other hand, have sunken leaves.
What does parsley root look like?
The parsley root belongs to the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) genus and is a biennial herbaceous plant. Its leaves smell intensely of parsley and resemble leaf parsley. However, they are larger and have a weaker aroma.
In the first year of planting, the parsley root develops a light-colored, cone-shaped taproot that tapers to a point at the bottom. The diameter of the beet is later up to 5 cm with a length of 15 cm to 20 cm. It is yellowish-white on the outside with brown rings, and the flesh on the inside is white. While the leaves die back in winter, the root itself is frost-hardy.
The plant develops a slightly grooved and hollow flower stalk in the second year. It grows up to 90 cm long. The yellow-green umbel flowers appear in June and July.
Planting parsley root
The ideal time for sowing is early spring. The roots still benefit from the wintry soil moisture in March and April. If sowed later, the beets often develop poorly and remain small.
Before sowing, loosen the soil with a digging fork or spade. You break up the remaining clods of earth with a cultivator—work 2 liters of mature compost per square meter into the bed’s surface.
Sow the root vegetables in rows about 30 cm apart. Put the seeds about 1 to 2 cm deep in the ground, cover them with soil, and lightly press them down. Then you water the seeds carefully, for example, with the spray jet function of the garden shower. Especially in the beginning, keeping the seed evenly moist is important.
Mark the seed with plant markers. The first seedlings appear after about two to four weeks. Remove weeds regularly until the seeds sprout.
Tip: Radishes are ideal companion seeds for parsley roots. After germination, separate the plants into rows about 7 cm apart.
Caring for parsley root
In the growth phase until mid-June, parsley roots depend on an adequate water supply. Water the root vegetables regularly, but avoid waterlogging. Root parsley is not particularly assertive against other plants in the bed. So pull weeds regularly.
The roots of the plant are hardy. If the ground is frost-free, you can harvest the beets in winter. However, the leaves do not tolerate frost. Therefore, winter protection made of leaves, brushwood, straw, or fleece is recommended for parsley roots.
Crop rotation and mixed culture
Parsley roots are among the middle consumers in the vegetable patch. Therefore, compliance with crop rotation is important. Wait three to four years before planting parsley roots in the same location to allow the soil to recover. The plants are also sensitive to other umbellifers, such as celery, coriander, and carrots, in the same bed or as a preculture.
On the other hand, beans and peas are suitable precultures. Legumes also make good bed neighbors. Parsley root can also be combined with chard, beetroot, and spinach.
How to harvest parsley
Harvest time for winter vegetables begins in October and lasts until February. In mild winters with frost-free soil, you can harvest as needed and dig up individual beets. You can harvest overwintered roots until April.
If you bring in the entire harvest, storing parsley roots wrapped in moist sand in a wooden box, similar to carrots or parsnips, is best. Roughly remove the soil beforehand, but don’t wash the roots. Use a sharp knife or pruning shears to trim the herb to just above the base of the leaf. The roots themselves must remain intact. In a cold cellar with temperatures just above freezing, the beets will keep for up to six months.
If wrapped in paper, the vegetables will stay fresh for about three weeks in a dark, airy place.
Tip: Root parsley is related to leaf parsley. In summer, you can harvest the herb and use it to flavor your recipes, like parsley. Only cut individual stalks at a time so as not to stunt the growth of the beets.
Parsley root use
The turnip of the parsley root tastes more aromatic than leaf parsley. You can usually find both in a bunch of soup greens. In the meantime, however, there are also plenty of recipes in which parsley root plays the leading role. How about parsley root soup or parsley root puree?
Whether boiled, roasted, or pureed, parsley root is a suitable accompaniment to meat and fish dishes. Raw, it gives salads a spicy freshness.
Root parsley can also be infused as tea. For example, hot drink is used for inflammatory urinary tract diseases. Apiol should play a role in this.
Note: Parsley root has a diuretic effect. Eating large amounts can cause kidney damage. Pregnant women should not eat parsley roots. Larger quantities may induce labor.
Parsley root varieties
The most famous variety of parsley root is also the oldest. It is called “Half-Long” and has medium-length, smooth, cone-shaped roots. It delivers good yields and tastes pleasantly spicy, especially when cooked.
The “Alba” variety also has an intense taste. The roots are suitable for longer storage and freezing.
The Konika variety has firm, long roots with a smooth surface. The harvest time for the leaves begins in August, and you can harvest the intensively tasting seeds in late autumn.
The parsley root “Arat” is considered to be high-yielding. It has broad-headed, long, and aromatic roots. You sow them from March to September. The beets are ready for harvest just 50 to 70 days later. You use the herb like leaf parsley.
The “Lange Oberlaaer” variety is particularly fast-growing. Their roots are elongated, cone-shaped, and about 20 cm long. The variety tastes strong and spicy; This makes these parsley roots particularly suitable for mixed vegetables.
Diseases and pests
It is sometimes confused with weeds in the bed since parsley roots take a comparatively long to germinate. Plant markers prevent you from accidentally weeding the seedlings.
Yellow discolored leaves indicate a magnesium deficiency. If the herb turns red, this is often due to soil conditions that are too moist. But the larvae of the carrot fly can also be responsible for the defect. If the carrot fly infests you, you should dig up the roots and dispose of them immediately.
Tip: You can protect the parsley root with close-meshed insect protection nets. It is also better to use compost instead of manure to fertilize to prevent infestation.
Red discoloration and growth disturbances can also be signs of a nematode infestation. These pests hardly stand a chance if you pay attention to the correct crop rotation. Mixed cultures with radishes, tomatoes, or marigolds are also useful.
Yellowed and curled leaves usually indicate an infestation with aphids. A strong shower from the garden hose is usually enough to take action against aphids.
In conclusion, growing parsley leaves and roots is essential for any gardener or cooking enthusiast. Parsley is a versatile herb that can add a fresh and flavorful touch to various dishes. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully grow healthy parsley plants and harvest their leaves and roots for use in your cooking.
Whether you grow parsley indoors or outdoors, remember to give your plants adequate light, water, and nutrients. With patience and care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of parsley leaves and roots for all your culinary needs.
How to grow parsley from seed
Sow parsley seeds 1/4 inch deep in a well-draining potting mix, keep consistently moist, and place in a bright, indirect sunlight location.
How to harvest parsley?
To harvest parsley, snip the outer stems and leaves at the base of the plant as needed, leaving the inner stalks and leaves to continue growing.
How long does parsley take to grow
Parsley seeds take around 2-4 weeks to germinate, and parsley plants typically take about 70-90 days to reach maturity from seed.
How to cut parsley from plant
.To harvest parsley from the plant, locate the outermost stems and leaves, and use a sharp, clean pair of scissors or gardening shears to snip them off at the base of the stem.
.It is important to leave the inner stems and leaves untouched, as these will continue to grow and produce more parsley over time.
.Avoid pulling or tearing the leaves, which can damage the plant and reduce productivity.
.If you need to harvest a large amount of parsley, do it in stages, allowing the plant time to recover between harvests.
.Regularly harvesting parsley can also help to promote bushier growth and prevent the plant from becoming leggy or woody.
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