The Backyard

The Backyard

Monday, May 26, 2008

Growing Parsley

Not exactly the most unusual of plants, parsley is commonly grown and known, but a plant that deserves a little more recognition than it gets. My mother is a parsley freak. She dries tons of it and uses it in soups and recipes all year long. Neither of us seldom use it fresh, but dried parlsey is always on our shelves.

Drying Parsley: 2 minutes in the microwave - truly! Cut the pieces you want to dry straight from the plant. Lay an evenly distributed layer (small handful) on a paper-towel on a paper plate. Cover with a 2nd paper towel. Microwave 2 minutes on high. Be very careful though near the end of the two minutes. If the parsley is overdry, it'll spark and try to start a fire (no joking here!). So its critically important you watch it for the last minute.

I started growing parsley mainly for my mother, but the environmental benefits of parsley are equally beneficial. The plant itself attracts the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly larvae that is truly one of the most beautiful caterpillars to see and watch. They munch and crunch parsley leaves, dill, and also fennel -- all the plants in the umbel family. It's a bienniel plant and will easily overwinter for the 2nd year of growth. In the second year though, be quick to cut and dry as it goes to seed rather quickly. Once seeded and flowering, a plethora of butterflies and beneficial insects will cover the plant, feasting until their hearts are content. Parsley is very easy to grow from seed. Soak the seed overnight, and plant as early in the spring as you possibly can. Its a cool weather plant and tolerates frost easily. Most common is the flat-leaved, and there's a curly leaved which is our preference. The curly leaved parsley dries into an award winning jar of dark green, colorful herbs. My mother has won 1st place at the local county fair many years with her dried parsley. A top-of-the-list herb for your garden.

1 comment:

Steve sculpts critters said...

I LOVE the caterpillar and butterfly, but I HATE parsley.
When people make a nice plate of food and then make it like the leaf blower just went by, ARRGHHH.
Mind you, maybe I'm just a bit fussy like that since I have no sense of smell (so my taste is less developed).
I hate goopy nasty looking frogspawn filled tomatoes too.