Growing Italian Parsley

Latest Update 28th July 2016.

Italian Parsley
  • I grow parsley as a culinary herb.
  • It is a perennial plant, grown as an annual.  It normally flowers in year 2, so always leave one plant to grow into a second year if you want to save some seeds.
  • Parsley leaves should be harvested before it flowers, as they lose their flavour when the plant diverts its energy to flower and seed production.
  • Italian parsley has a stronger, sweeter flavour than the popular curly leaf parsley and it is more suited to cooking rather than as a garnish.  It can be used freshly chopped straight off the plant, or dried and stored as a coarsely chopped flake in glass jars.
  • I find Italian parsley is usually pest free in my garden.
  • Variety:                                                  Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  • Family:                                                  Apiaceae. (Carrot).
  • Garden bed type:                                    Drip line irrigated organic bed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                           6.0 - 7.0.
  • Minimum sun per day:                            6 hours.
  • Week to harvest:                                    10-13 weeks.
  • Plant spacings (centres):                        450mm.
  • Good companions:                                 Tomatoes, carrot, chive, peppermint and rose.
  • Climate:                                                 Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                            Southern hemisphere. 
  • This food is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol.
  • It is also a good source of protein, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and zinc, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and manganese.
  • More from nutrition 
    Growing Conditions. 
    • Italian parsley needs full sun.
    • It is a light feeder but benefits from a generous application of home made compost worked into the soil before planting.
    • It is frost tender, but even in warm temperate climates, it is usually treated as an annual.
    • It prefers well-drained soil, but don't let it dry out completely.
    Soil Preparation.
    • In September, clear a space for parsley in a drip line bed, add a 60mm layer of homemade compost and cover with 50mm of straw mulch.
    • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.  Move the mulch to one side before planting.
    Growing Instructions.
    • Although parsley is a perennial plant it is usually propagated from seed in spring.
    • Sow parsley seeds in August on the surface of an organic seed growing mix in a mini pot, and cover lightly with sieved seed growing mix.
    • Soak the mini pot for an hour in a tray containing 10mm of water (preferably rainwater).  The water will wick up into the soil without flooding it. 
    • Sink the mini pot up to its rim in a propagator's wicking media.  This will keep the soil moist until the seedlings are ready to transplant.  Protect the seedlings against frost. 
    • After 4 weeks the seeds are transplanted individually into organic potting mix in jiffy pots and returned to the propagator.
    • After a further 4 weeks (or when big enough) plant the seedlings in the prepared bed.
    • Return the mulch as soon as the parsley is established.
    • Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks when the other edible plants are sprayed.
    Harvesting and Storage. 
    • Parsley can be harvested from December till May.
    • Begin using the leaves as soon as the plant is large enough to spare some.  Don't take too many leaves at once or you will have to wait some time for the plant to recover.
    • If you are a heavy user of parsley, grow more plants and harvest a few leaves at a time from each of them.
    • You can air-dry parsley in small, loose bunches. Once the leaves are dry, crush them and store them in an airtight container.
    • Alternatively, you can freeze parsley.  Simply chop the leaves in a food processor, blend with a small amount of water and pour the mixture into ice cube trays.  When frozen, knock them out into freezer bags and store in the freezer.   
    Organic Pest Control
    • Slugs and snails.
      • I grow my herbs in a drip irrigated raised bed, and run copper tape around it 100mm off the ground.
      • Copper tape is a very effective barrier as the slugs and snails get a small electric shock when they come into contact with it, and they retreat to less hostile surroundings.
      • Occasionally I get one or two juvenile snails in my raised beds.  I believe they get into the bed as eggs though the compost heap.  When this happens, I use a few iron chelate snail baits to round them up.  These bates are approved for use in organic gardens, but I only use the bare minimum to do the job.
    • Greenhouse whitefly.  
      • Aerated compost tea improves the plants resistance to whitefly damage.
      • Exclusion netting is very effective against whitefly, but they are very small and will occasionally breach your defences, so you will need to check your crop regularly.  
      • Control any infestations by spray your crop thoroughly with organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia).
      • Spray again in a few days to ensure second generation whitefly do not survive.
    • Aphids (greenfly).
      • Use the same methods described above for whitefly.
    • General.
      • Repeated foliar sprays of aerated compost tea should deter most airborne pests and diseases.
      • Proper soil preparation and regular applications of home made will help control soil borne pests.