Italian Giant Parsley
Seed Count: Approx. 400 seeds
Days to Maturity: 70 Days
Description: This parsley variety grows larger than other varieties, and produces huge thick stocks of parsley. The Italian Giant parsley is a flat leaf variety that packs a richer flavor that curled leaf parsley. It's excellent in salads, cooking, and sauces, and definitely a perfect herb for drying or for fresh use, as well. If you're like me, and hate parsley, consider growing it in your pollinator garden. Parsley attracts the black swallowtail butterfly, and is an ideal host plant for their caterpillars. It's the perfect plant for them, if you don't want them eating all of your carrot tops! Parsley also grows well in containers.
How To Grow
Sowing: Start your parsley seeds indoors to give your plants a head start. It's helpful to soak the seeds overnight, but it's not necessary. Plant them 1/4 inch deep and keep them at 65-70 degrees F. Parsley has a notorious habit of germinating slowly, so don't expect to see sprouts for 3-5 weeks. Make sure to keep the soil evenly moist, while you wait for the seeds to finally sprout. Transplant your seedlings into your garden when the average outdoor soil temperature reaches at least 60 degrees F. Space plants about 6 inches apart, and plant them in full sun or partial shade.
Growing: Parsley has shallow roots, and should not be allowed to dry out. Keep the plant well watered, and use mulch to help conserve moisture and control weeds. Most parsley varieties can be overwintered and survive weather below zero degrees, if mulched properly. Swallowtail caterpillars enjoy this plant, and can be a pest. I would just plant more than I actually plan to eat for this purpose, instead of killing them, but that is a personal choice.
Harvesting: You can harvest parsley leaves as needed, taking the large outer leaves first and removing at least 10 inches of stem with the leaves in order to keep the plant healthy and continuously producing. The whole plant can be harvested at once, as well, cutting the plant just above ground level. If you do this more leaves will grow back. Use parsley immediately or preserve its freshness by drying or freezing it. To save seeds, over winter the plants, making sure to mulch well. Once spring comes around, it'll flower and develop seed heads. Keep an eye on them because they tend to shatter easily. I like to wrap heads in mesh bags to prevent this from happening. Pick each seed head, as it becomes dry and mature. Dry the seeds more if needed, and clean the seeds by rubbing the heads through a screen or shaking them. You can store the seeds for up to 4 years.