Grow your own Italian (Flat Leaf) Parsley at Home
- Dec 05, 2016
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Like cilantro, parsley is typically a cool weather herb that grows best in the uplands. In extremely warm climates, they tend to bolt (produce flowers) prematurely. However, I’m glad that there are slow-bolting varieties that can thrive well under our climate here in the Philippines. In fact, I started my parsley seeds before summer and much to my delight, they were able to withstand our hot weather throughout the season. Luckily for me, the start of the monsoon rains came early in May which had brought down the outside temperature here in Metro Manila. This made it even more conducive to grow the parsley in my home backyard garden....
How to Start Parsley from Seeds
Prepare the seeds by soaking them in water overnight. Sow 2-3 seeds in a seed tray, or drop a few seeds directly into a medium sized container. Place the seed tray in a location that gets a little exposure to the morning sun. In about two weeks, the seeds will begin to germinate. To allow healthiest sprouts to thrive, prune away the excess sprouts starting with the smaller and unhealthy ones. After two more weeks, the new clover leaf-like leaves will start to take shape. From the seed tray, transfer each of the seedlings into individual medium-sized containers that have at least 10-inches in depth and width.
Plant Care and Maintenance
Parsley is a biennial plant. This means that it produces leaves on the first year, during which the flavor is concentrated on the leaves. In warm countries like the Philippines, their life cycle is shorter, usually less than a year. When the flowers start to appear and produce seeds, this signals the start of the end of their life cycle. By this time, the plant slowly withers and dies. During the flowering stage, the concentration of flavor shifts to the tap roots, instead of the leaves. You can still harvest them by pulling them out of the soil and use the tap roots for culinary purposes.
There are two varieties of parsley that are most commonly grown in the Philippines. One is the curly-leaf variety which can thrive only in colder upland regions. The other variety is the flat-leaf variety, which can tolerate a little bit of warm weather, like what we have here in Manila.
During hot months, locate the plants under a partial shade with around 3-4 hours of exposure to the morning sun. Water them as frequently as needed, especially when the temperature exceeds 30 degrees Celsius. Parsley can be grown indoors, but make sure to place the pot near the window where they can still get partial sunlight.
Parsley can only be propagated from seeds, and they require moist but well draining soil in order to thrive. Occasional side dressing of an organic fertilizer is needed to replenish the lost nutrients in the soil, especially for potted plants.
Harvesting Parsley Leaves
Under the right weather conditions, parsley leaves can be harvested, as early as 60- 70 days from seed starting. To enjoy several rounds of harvests, simply cut leaves and stalks individually, keeping the core intact. Do not harvest more than 50% of the stalks and leaves.
Aside from its culinary use, parsley has a lot of health benefits that include boosting your immunity system, detoxifying, treating diabetes and skin diseases, and many others. You can boil or juice the leaves and stalks, and drink the juice extract or boiled water every morning before breakfast.