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All About Parsley - The Different Types, How to Grow & Use it

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Italian Parsley still growing strong in fall
Parsley is a very popular fresh and dried herb that originated in the Mediterranean region specifically Greece and Morocco to name a few countries. Parsley is in the same family (Apiaceae or Umbelliferae ) as carrots, fennel, celery and dill. It's a beautiful herb to grow annually here (usually a biennial) or dug up or grown in pots to then overwinter. There are two main types of Parsley: Curly Leaf and Flat Leaf. Both have great intense flavor of their own to add to dishes. I've grown both in my garden and sell both a curly leaf variety (Darki) and a flat leaf type (Plain Dark Leaf Italian) - you can view them here: https://gardengirlseeds.ca/collections/herb-seeds
Curly Leaf Parsley
Curly leaf parsley has crinkly small leaves and the plant forms a dense clump making it easy to fit into small spaces in the garden. It is great to use mostly for throwing into soups and stews finely chopped or whole. Also it is used to garnish plates. This parsley is a tough plant and will withstand a few hard frosts especially if in a more sheltered area. View a great variety of curly leaf parsley I sell HERE:
Flat Leaf Parsley
Flat leaf Parsley has smoother flat leaves that make it absolutely lovely to use freshly minced in salads, as a garnish on dishes or thrown in soup, stews and even canned salsa. I think using it fresh really brings out the full bodied flavor of this variety of parsley though. It is also a great alternative to cilantro in dishes as it has the spicy characteristics without being too peppery if cilantro isn't your thing. Flat leaf parsley also holds up well even after a light frost.
View a great variety of Flat-leaf Parsley I sell HERE.
How to Grow Parsley:
Planting: You can direct sow parsley but I've found the best success in starting plants ahead of planting them out or you can even purchase them at a nursery. To start seeds indoors start 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Need light and good heat to germinate. Bottom heat even if available but not absolutely needed. Seeds can take 12-28 days to germinate so be patient. If direct sowing, sow when the soil has warmed after your last frost date. Plant transplants out when danger of frost is past. Parsley has a good spread so space a bit (8-10") apart but doesn't have to be perfect. Plant in nutrient dense soil with good drainage.
Growing: Parsley can be grown in full sun to part shade - helps if kept watered. If plant starts to form seed heads prune them off.
Harvesting: Harvest as soon as plant is large enough and producing a good amount of stems and leaves. Never harvest too much of the plant to allow it to regrow. Harvest leaves or cut stems.
Preserving Parsley
Parsley is great to enjoy fresh through the Summer but why not try preserving some of that parsley as it can be quite productive especially the more you harvest it.
Drying
This method works great for Italian Flat leaf Parsley but Curly leaf would work fine too.
Step 1: Turn your oven on and lower to the lowest temperature your oven reaches (Ours is around 190°
F).
Step 2: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and start to lay your parsley leaves (separated from the stems) as evenly as possible on the tray.
Step 3: Place in the Preheated oven and slowly dry for at least 30-40 min. Check close to 30 mins in. Parsley should be dry and easy to crumble in your hand but still a greenish color (not overly dried).
Step 4: Let Parsley cool and you can simply crumble into a bowl then add to a jar with an oxygen absorber (optional) to keep for many months later! 
Freezing
A great way to freeze parsley to maintain it's flavor more than drying is by making a pesto type paste with the parsley and then freezing it in jars! Here's a great video on that by Greg Auton (Maritime Gardening) on Youtube HERE. If you don't follow Greg you should he has amazing garden content!
So hope this gives you a good scope of such a versatile herb! Love growing it in my garden - a delicious addition to any dish.
Breanna Sproule

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