For flavouring and garnishing, for making sauce to go with boiled broad beans, cod, or other fish, parsley wins a place in every well-ordered vegetable patch. Give it moisture in spring and summer and a moderately good root-run, and sprigs may be picked from it the year round.
Varieties include Double Curled, Giant Curled, Moss Curled, Hardy Winter Matchless.
From 1 ounce of seed about 2,000 plants could be raised. Seedlings are not, as a rule, in any great hurry to appear; time taken is from three to eight weeks.
Ready for Use.
Sprigs are available for picking in summer from a spring sowing. A round-the-ycar supply is simple to maintain, with or without the assistance of the dried product.
The dwarf habit of parsley makes it an ideal edging to a border in the home garden. In the allotment it can be fitted in as a short row, or series of short rows, wherever there happens to be room for it and where it can remain undisturbed. In very light and quick-to-dry-out soil a little shade in summer will help it; which does not mean it will thrive under a tree or hedge or jammed close to a fence. In more substantial soil it can be in full sun. It appreciates leaf-mould below, and water when the ground dries.
If the soil is very heavy and inclined to lie wet in spring and winter it should be broken up 1 ft. deep and plenty of sand, road grit, or crushed mortar rubble or brick mixed with it.
As a finishing touch, before the seed is sown, rake in superphosphate of lime – 2 ounces for 9 ft. of row.
When and How to Sow.
Any time from March to July seed can be sown. A summer supply is secured by sowing in March or April, and if strong young plants are wanted for winter and spring seed can be sown in June or July.
Plants remain profitable for two years, when they run to seed. If a small sowing is made every year there is no hold up in supplies. Seed is sown in ½ in. deep drills where the plants are to remain.
Parsley seed is capricious in its germination, sometimes coming up in three weeks, at other times taking as long as eight weeks. It can be speeded up by keeping the sown drill moist and by covering this with pieces of glass laid flat on small stones so that they are raised about 1 in.; the glass to be removed when the seedlings are visible.
The plants are to stand finally at 6 in. apart. If the thinnings are lifted with a trowel, complete with roots, when the ground is moist, they can be planted to extend the row or form another one. If watered in at once there will be no check to growth.
Watering and Weeding.
In a hot summer even young parsley is apt to run to seed for lack of sufficient moisture. An occasional bucketful of water will prevent this and encourage vigorous, dense growth. As a rule weeds are not troublesome, these being choked at an early stage by the parsley’s own spreading foliage. But they should be looked for, and removed, during the parsley’s seedling stage.
Picking the Sprigs.
Whatever pickings are required at any one time should be taken not from one single plant but from several.
If flower stems appear, these should be removed at the base. Unless picking is done constantly a plant here and there may become overgrown and the foliage will be coarse. In this case the tops should be cut back; a fresh crop of young, neat growth will result.
In some soils and localities there is no difficulty whatever in carrying parsley through the winter, no protection of any kind being needed. But where the ground is heavy and wet it is advisable to lift a few plants and winter them in good soil in a frame, or in pots in a greenhouse, so that picking may continue through winter and early spring.
The method of drying parsley is described in the section EASY HOME PRESERVATION OF VEGETABLES.
Preparing for Table.
Remove stalks from the sprigs, wash, and dry by shaking in a cloth.