Parsley is a classic herb which appears in many Mediterranean recipes from Greek to French and naturally, Italian. It is very nutritious, if not the most nutritious herb known. This biennial plant lives for two years before its full life cycle is complete.
There are two popular varieties of the herb, curly parsley which is what we often see used as garnishes and flat parsley, also called Italian parsley. Although both can be used in Italian meals and recipes, the flat parsley has a slightly more bitter taste.
Parsley also makes a good companion plant to tomatoes. Companion planting is when specific plants are purposefully grown near each other for specific reasons. Most reasons are related to the deterrent of harmful insects, or for the attraction of beneficial insects. For example, parsley is recommended to plant near tomato plants because it attracts wasp which like to prey on the harmful tomato hornworm.
History of Parsley
Parsley dates back to the early Greek and Roman period in history and most likely even before that. However, we do know that parsley was often used as a symbol of victory (as illustrated by the Ancient Greek Olympics which adorned the victorious winners with a crowned wreath made of what else – parsley).
How to Grow Parsley
Growing parsley is fairly straight forward. However, if growing from seed it is important to keep in mind that the germination period can take approximately 3 to 4 weeks until they begin to grow. Beyond this, it can be grown in most soils and requires watering on a regular basis. Keep in mind, when growing this herb, that the soil must have good drainage, meaning the water can drain properly and not cause the soil to remain waterlogged.
Once the herb begins to grow, create a 6-inch space between plants by using a process called thinning. This simply means to remove any plants which can cause overcrowding. Cut the unwanted herbs at the stem, and do not pull them out as this can disrupt other roots nearby. If planting in a container, remember that parsley has long roots and for this reason should be planted in a taller container rather than a shorter one.