Growing Parsley in Your Home Garden
Parsley is a popular herb that is used in many food recipes as well as a garnish for food decoration. This biennial herb originated in the Mediterranean lands and is said to have also been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a flavoring and garnish for food so this practice has come down to us from ancient times.
Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) belongs to the family Apiaceae or Umbelliferae, parsley has lacy leaves that are bright green. There are two types of parsley, flat-leaf parsley also called Italian or French parsley that has flat bright leaves resembling a celery stock that grows from 18 to 24 inches.
Curly leaf parsley has ruffled leaves and grows from 8 t0 12 inches, for more on how to grow parsley in your home garden let’s take a closer look.
Parsley planting location
Parsley should be installed in an area that gets full sunlight. When planting parsley space 6 to 8 inches apart.
Parsley soil requirements
Well-drained nutrient-rich soil is ideal for your parsley to grow healthy. The soil’s pH can be anywhere from 5.5 to 6.0.
Parsley water requirements
Thoroughly soaking the soil once a week will keep your parsley growing healthy, allow the soil to dry slightly. During periods of hot dry weather watering twice a week may be needed.
Parsley fertilizer requirements
A fish fertilizer of 5-1-1 or a commercial fertilizer of 5-10-5 will provide parsley with the needed nutrients.
Once your parsley reaches around 6 inches tall the use of mulches will help in suppressing weeds, hold moisture and add nutrients to the soil as the mulch decomposes. Chopped leaves or combining shredded paper and peat moss is ideal. A 2-inch layer can be spread on the soil surface around parsley.
Growing parsley in pots
Growing parsley in a container requires a container that’s large enough for your parsley to sit comfortably. The container should have drain holes for water drainage, a good potting mix is ideal, once you have installed your parsley place the container where parsley can receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight preferably a south-facing window. A saucer should be placed under the container to catch the water.
Turn the container every three to four days so that the entire plant will grow healthy and not having one side lean because of getting the majority of the sunlight. Misting the leaves once every few days or sitting the container on top of a try of water and pebbles will help in increasing the humidity level, the tops of the pebbles should be exposed as this will help to increase humidity.
Growing parsley indoors from seeds
When starting parsley indoors seeds should be sown 6 t0 10 weeks before the last frost when the weather starts to warm up. Sow the seeds directly 1/4-1/8 inch deep into the soil because parsley has a long taproot that doesn’t transplant well.
The container should be water on a regular basis because this moisture is important for seed germination however be careful not to overwater because soggy soil will become an issue. Seeds should germinate in about 3 weeks or thereabout.
Once parsley has germinated a half-strength fertilizer or fish emulsion every 2 weeks will supply the needed nutrients. Parsley can also be grown in a container along with other herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme.
Growing Parsley from cuttings
Growing parsley from cuttings is so simple, with scissors that are sterilized, just beneath the leaf node remove a cutting that’s 3-5 inches long. From the bottom two-thirds of the stem remove the leaves. Place the cutting in a jar of water or perlite and moist sand. Place the jar on a window sill and in a few weeks, your cuttings will begin to develop roots.
Parsley garden insect pests
Keep a watch for these insect pests.
- Carrot root fly
- Carrot aphid
- Parsley worm
- Army cutworms
Carrot root fly
The female flies lay their eggs in the soil, the worms once hatched feed on the roots causing stunted growth. Control this insect by mixing 1 part of 35% Hydrogen Peroxide in 10 parts water. Thoroughly water this solution into the soil around the plant.
Aphids cause damage by piercing the leaves and sucking the sap along with consuming the foliage or leaves. A mixture of garlic and water sprayed directly acts as a contact spray causing elimination.
This larval caterpillar is from the black swallowtail butterfly with yellow dots and black stripes that does damage by consuming the leaves of growing plants. The flip side of the coin is these caterpillars are considered to be highly prized molting into a beautiful butterfly along with pollinating flowers.
Army cutworms are the larval stage of the miller moth, these garden pests are green/brown and feed on the young shoots and seedlings just below the soil surface. Because these worms inhabit the soil they are hard to control.
Control measures include circling the stems with diatomaceous earth, sprinkle used eggshells or coffee ground around your plants, army cutworms are active at night so with a flashlight, handpick and drop them into a container of soapy water.
Although this method may be time-consuming but placing a 4-inch piece of cardboard around each plant stem will prevent these garden pests from making a meal out of the plant’s stems. This method is effective on gardens that are small.
These caterpillars are the larval stage of the moth species Pseudaletia unipuncta. The worms are green/ brown growing 1-2 inches in length. Armyworms hide in the soil and are active during the night hours this is the time when feeding begins.
Signs of armyworm’s presence include leaves that have holes or entire the entire leaf goes missing. Going out at night time with a flashlight and dropping them in a container will bring control. Spiders, ladybugs, wasp, and other garden insect feeds on armyworms so this is a natural way to get rid of them.
Look for these diseases and treat them when spotted.
- Leaf spot
- Crown/root rot
This disease is encouraged by the Septoria fungus, and bacteria found in the soil. Symptoms show up as yellow spots on the leaves, with a dark brown halo that’s yellow. This disease causes the plant to become weakened. The leaves wilt and start to drop, the fungus that causes leaf spot is splashed onto the plant and is also seed-borne.
Botrytis blight which is caused by a fungus is also called gray mold, symptoms include brown to black spots on the leaves. As this disease persists the surface of the leaves develops a fungal growth that is white to gray. The leaves will eventually die.
Crown/root rot is encouraged both by bacteria and fungus found in extreme moist soil, signs of this disease include yellowing and browning of the leaves and stems. The roots turn black followed by decay. New shoots will also not form. The plant will eventually die.
Control measures include good cultural practices such as monitoring the amount of moisture the plant receives, avoid overhead irrigation, water from the soil leave and during the day hours, crop rotation and also planting resistant varieties. Sulfur fungicides applied at the first sign may offer some help, if the disease has affected the majority of the plant it’s best to remove and discard the plant.
When harvesting parsley the stems and the leaves should be gathered together, the cut should be made from the base of the plant. This method of cutting will give a busier plant once it starts to regrow.
The final word on how to grow parsley
Growing parsley is that simple all it takes is some know-how, you have come to the right place when seeking to grow and harvest parsley. Parsley is a culinary herb that’s used widely for its flavor and beauty. Join the many homeowners who are growing and reaping the rewards by growing parsley from your home garden.