I am a huge fan of parsley. If you have a good big patch of it in the garden, you are never without a green veg, a garnish, a flavouring and a basic ingredient for all season pesto. Chop it through pasta, serve a thick layer on soup, use abundantly in coatings for foods – the options for use are numerous as long as you have plenty available. It is particularly useful in the depths of winter when you may have a shortage of other fresh greens. And you can feel virtuous because it is full of goodness if you eat enough.
The critical aspect of ensuring that you have an uninterrupted supply is to get it established two years in a row because this is a biennial plant. In its second year, it will set seed and die. As long as you leave at least one plant to go to seed, parsley can naturalise itself and pop up gently throughout the vegetable garden or even in the flower beds. Once you have established it two years in a row, it should continue under its own steam as long as you let some of the seedlings grow and are not too vigilant on the weeding.
There are two types of parsley – curly leafed (which is arguably more flavourful and easier to chop) and flat leafed Italian (which is allegedly sweeter and is certainly more trendy in modern recipes). Both grow in the same conditions so you can have either or both. Parsley is usually started in the first instance from seed. Be patient. It can take several weeks to germinate. While it is starting, it needs to be kept moist so if you are planning on sowing some, start before the dryness of summer. After that, just let it grow and start picking. It does not require any care and is generally free from pests and diseases.
First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.