Friday, February 6, 2009

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
Petroselinium crispum
Heirloom - Organic
12-18 in. Hardy Biennial
This is our favorite for seasoning and drying. Introduced before 1806, its larger than normal leaves are a dark, glossy green with a stronger and more concentrated flavor than standard strains. Best started indoors in very early spring. Takes up to 3 weeks to germinate. Transplant into the garden in rows 8-12 inches apart. Enrich soil with mature compost. Harvest outer leaves by gently twisting the stem away from the base of the plant. Can be used fresh, dried, or frozen.

Planting Depth: 1/8-1/4"
Soil Temp. for Germ.: 60-70°F
Days to Germ.: 14-21
Plant Spacing: 8-12
Days to Maturity: 75-85
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Moderate Water
Pack weight .170gms ~ 100 seeds

An 8" biennial that is usually planted as an annual, parsley is one herb that almost everyone grows. It is easy to grow but slow to start. Just when you're ready to reorder seeds, those pesky little scalloped-edged seedlings begin to emerge. Parsley seeds, and those of several other related plants as well, contain furanocoumarins, compounds that block germination, especially in the presence of sunlight.
DAYS TO GERMINATION: 21 days at around 70°
WHEN TO PLANT: Plant parsley seeds outdoors as early in the spring as you can work the garden soil.
HOW TO PLANT: Sow two row seeds along the row to mark the spot. Weeds often appear first and must be kept under control. Sometimes I beat the weeds by starting parsley seedlings early in the greenhouse and seeding them out in April. Be sure seeds are covered - not deeply but thoroughly - because they germinate more completely in the absence of light. Thin plants to 6" apart.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Fertilize once or twice during the growing season.
REMARKS: To knock a week or more off of parsley's usual three week sprouting time, soak the parsley seeds in water for 48 hours, changing the water twice, before planting them. This dissolves some of those inhibiting compounds. Discard the water, though. Don't do as I used to do (before I knew about furanocoumarins) and pour it on the planted seeds. i've gotten relatively prompt germination of late-spring sowings after pouring very hot water or the planted seeds. Once planted, though, parsley seeds germinate best when the soil temp is below 85°.
It was an old country custom to hang a parsley seed heat on a tree, arbor, or fence adjoining the garden so that the windblown seeds would be scattered in the garden. If you try this bit of lore, don't count on it for your whole crop. Plant some seeds in the ground too.

PURCHASED: 1g from Seeds of Change (via Garden Fever) Feb '09. $2.99
STARTED SEED: Started a 48 hour seed soak on 2/8. Put seeds into unheated starter trays on 2/11/09. These germinate better in the dark but I didn't have a place for them that was warm enough, I sprouted them in a flat with other plants under light. I cut out a wide strip of foiled chip bag and put it over the little row after it was planted to keep them warm but in the dark while under the lights. My first two seeds sprouted on 02/17/09. So 10 days to sprout from starting the soak and only 7 from putting them in the soil mix!
HARDENED OFF: 3/15/09: One hour in the cold frame. Increased the time daily until they were out for a full day after about a week. Sadly they sat in their flat and I didn't get around to transplanting them for nearly two weeks!




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