How to grow
Parsley is a biennial – flowering then dying in its second year – but is usually grown as an annual. It’s notoriously slow to germinate, but is worth growing from seed for a good supply of leaves.
Sow from March onwards on a sunny windowsill. The best time to sow is July when you can plant outside direct into the ground or into large pots at least 30cm wide. Keep the seed well watered to aid germination and they should sprout in three to four weeks.
If you haven’t the time or patience to grow from seed, buy a parsley plant from the supermarket or garden centre. Cut it back to within 5cm of the base and then repot into a larger container without disturbing the roots.
How to care for parsley
Parsley prefers damp soil in partial shade. You’ll need to protect it from slugs and if carrot fly is a problem, cover with fine mesh. Parsley is hardy but it will produce fewer leaves in winter if left outside.
Cover plants with a cloche or move potted parsley indoors or to the greenhouse to give you fresh leaves in winter.
Try growing curly parsley as an ornamental border edging – it looks great with French marigolds.
How to harvest
Parsley can be picked continually and will constantly produce new growth but it’s worth picking a good bunch, chopping the leaves and freezing for use in winter when leaf production declines.
For curly-leafed parsley choose ‘Champion Moss Curled’ or ‘Green Pearl’; for flat-leafed go for ‘Plain Leaved 2’. Both should be readily available.