This herb is not only a very healthy, all-purpose garnish, it is an excellent companion plant. Sowing parsley from seed will provide plenty of plants for spreading around the vegetable garden or for under roses.

Start parsley early indoors in July. Fill seed trays with a damp germinating mix. Sprinkle the seed lightly on top of the mix and sieve more soil mix on top just to cover. Press down lightly and water lightly or spritz.

Place the seed trays in a warm, sunny spot indoors or keep the seed trays on a hot tray turned onto low, or on a heating pad. Make sure that the mixture never dries out. Cover with plastic cling wrap or a plastic bag to act as a micro-climate.

Germinating tip

Parsley seeds can take up to three weeks or a month to germinate, so don’t be discouraged or in a hurry. Germination can be speeded up at the time of planting by gently watering the seeds with hot water from the kettle. This helps to scarify the seeds. After applying the hot water, cover with a fine layer of germination mix and firm down lightly. The seeds may germinate a week to 10 days faster than normal.

Parsley as a companion

It’s not generally known that parsley encourages the growth of most plants except mint and lettuce. It’s especially beneficial when planted with tomatoes, peppers, corn, carrots, chives, onions and peas. Even roses if planted around the base, but not up against the stems.

Parsley plants also attract hoverflies and their larvae feed on aphids and thrips.

READ MORE: Parsley, and other herbs, are great for soups and stews!

To Grow

Two varieties to grow from seed are the traditional moss curled parsley and the flat leaf Italian parsley.

Italian flat leaf parsley is more flavourful and aromatic than curly parsley. It withstands longer cooking, making it suitable for use in bouquet garni, soups, stock, sauces and stews as well as a garnish.

Grow plants in full sun or semi-shade, in fertile soil. Water and feed regularly as it’s a heavy feeder. Italian parsley grows into a large plant, 20cm high and wide, with slender stems and dark green flat leaves. Harvest the outer leaves.

Read more on www.kirchhoffs.co.za

The Gardener