“Are you going to Scarborough Fair?” Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon encouraged us to think about parsley, sage, rosemary and time while on the journey. Apparently they have symbolic meaning in the song: parsley for comfort, sage for strength, rosemary for love and thyme for courage. (source: Culinary Lore).
The article goes on to say that other sources attribute ‘festivity’ to parsley and that seems appropriate on New Year’s Eve! I can find no source for this information but let’s just run with it anyway!
As a teenager, I only saw parsley used by other families or in restaurants, never at my home. Often used as a garnish, it was pushed aside and returned to the kitchen with the otherwise empty plate. I was a young adult before I ever tasted tabouli – and was hooked. Such freshness and flavour!
Parsley originates from southern Europe, around the Mediterranean. It is an ‘ancient’ herb, believed to have been used by the Ancient Greeks to decorate both triumphant athletes and tombs. It is said to have been made popular by Charlemagne, who, allegedly, grew it in his garden. The same has also been said of Catherine de Medici, who is believed to have introduced it to France from her native Italy.
Parsley is high in vitamin C and Vitamin A. It contains many nutrients, the most well known of which is iron. (source: Healthline)
Green parsley comes in two forms, flat leaf and curly, both of which were known to the people of Rome, more than 2,000 years ago. Flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavour than curly leafed parsley which makes it more desirable as a flavouring ingredient. Curly leaf parsley, with its decorative form, is usually the choice for adding as a garnish.
They are the same species, Petroselinum crispum, although flat leaf parsley is sometimes referred to as Petroselenum crispum neapolitanum. The are related to carrots, parsnips and celery. Both varieties of parsley are biennials. This means that they grow through the first season, remain evergreen In most climates and flower in the second year. Flat leaf parsley, is said to be easier to cultivate than curly parsley.
HOW TO GROW PARSLEY
Both varieties of parsley are biennials. This means that they grow through the first season, remain evergreen In most climates and flower in the second year.
It is best to sow parsley seed directly where you want it to grow. Like their cousins, the carrots, they have tap roots and they do not like to have their roots disturbed. If you buy parsley plants or seedlings from the nursery be very careful not to disturb the roots when you plant them or then they go into transplant shock. Sometimes, plants don’t recover. We have never had a problem transplanting parsley so it is tougher than this paragraph might suggest. The photo shows the root of finished parsley, that ism about eighteen months old. I broke off a thinner root while pulling it out, is was at least another 25cm longer.
The seeds of either variety can take a long time to germinate, sometimes up to a month. The see this fairly small so it needs to be sewn very close to the surface. Remember to follow the instructions on your seed packet.
Parsley like a rich, moist soil but they do not like to be water-logged. We have found that they cope much better with drought – style conditions than with very wet conditions.
The flowers, which appear in the second spring, are very small and fairly insignificant. They held on little tumbles umbrella – like structures, and from a distance, can look just green. Bees and other pollinators like parsley flowers because their structure makes it easy to access nectar. enter
A mature flat-leaf parsley plant, in its second year, can be as tall as 60 to 70 cm and spread out to cover one square metre. In our experience, curly leaf parsley is generally much smaller. Both varieties of parsley self seed really so you should have parsley coming up every here after the second year.
FUN FINAL FACT
There is a third variety of parsley which most people don’t know about. Petroselinum tuberosum is a root vegetable. The leaves can be used as a substitute for flat leaf parsley.