parsley advice

alicate(SW Michigan, zone 5)June 19, 2006

I planted parsley last spring and this is its second year. It is now going to seed. I heard advice to let it go to seed so the patch becomes an ongoing endevour, almost sort of a perenial.

Here's my question: With the above manner in mind, how do I harvest any to use? Can I indiscrimately cut down plants? What if they are flowering? Will they still be good? I'm really not sure how to go about this but I love having fresh parsley!

Thanks so much!

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girlfromthegarden(z5 Indy metro)

I had excellent "volunteering" with an Italian-leafed (flat) parsley that got going in my garden several years ago. I let it go into its second year, it self-seeded, and I had many baby parsley plants the third year. Best advice from my own experience: dedicate an area for your parsley, harvest leaves for cooking from first-year plants only (second-year foliage is different anyway, as the plant is putting its energies into flowering), and allow at least one or two second-year plants to fulfill their flowering/seed producing cycles to replenish your patch. Collect seed for extras if desired. I'm wishing now I'd kept the cycle going with the original plant I had (the flavor was very good), but didn't - I redid my garden area, no survivors with the parsley plants. But might let my present-year parsley do its thing into next season in the herb bed where I (with better judgment) placed it rather than in the veggie garden. Btw, dill is another diligent self-seeder, with a vengeance (they don't call it dill *weed* for nothing!). Cilantro also does yeoman's service, but these are annuals rather than biennials. Hope you enjoy your parsley patch!


    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 3:24PM
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Parsley is a biennial, and will go to seed in its second year, then die. Once it goes to seed, the leaf flavour deteriorates - becomes more 'coarse-tasting'. But that's OK, because you'll end up with zillions more plants before too long. I've got them growing in the most unlikely places - like in the cracks between concrete pavers under my clothes-line, quite a long distance from the original plant. I got a few coming up in the place I wanted them to! Rule of thumb for harvesting most plants, including parsley, is to take only about one-third of leaves at any one time, wait until it regenerates, and repeat as often as you can.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 5:45PM
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teryaki(z5B NE OHIO)

Second-year parsley is a favorite food of groundhogs, rabbits, deer and butterfly caterpillars. It'll help keep them away from the herbs YOU want to eat. :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 10:21PM
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nygardener(z6 New York)

I like this "parsley patch" idea. Is there any way to encourage the seeds to set down in the same area of the garden?

If direct-seeding parsley (from a seed packet), is it better to sow in fall or spring?

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 8:49AM
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Make the patch a large one! The flower spikes can get very long (about a metre) and that means that they are exposed to the wind, which spreads the seeds around. I honestly don't know how you'd persuade the seeds to fall where you want them! The trouble with parsley is that it really doesn't like to be transplanted. But with care and good luck, it can be done.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 9:19AM
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