Q: What’s green, likes to croon, and makes others swoon?
A: Elvis Parsley
Boom tish! You might find the above “joke” in a Christmas cracker, but it’s so much cooler and less nauseating to find parsley in your garden!
Parsley is a must have in any self-respecting home garden, with culinary and medicinal uses that have been celebrated for centuries. Thought to have originated in Sardinia, the Ancient Greeks also revered parsley, crowning their victors with garlands of parsley at the Isthmian games and adorning tombs with wreaths.
There are three distinct varieties of parsley, marked by different degrees of curliness. Most common are the ‘Flat leaf’ (or ‘Italian’) variety with its richer, more substantial flavour and the ‘Curly leaf’, known throughout the world as an attractive garnish with a delicious, clean mild taste. Lesser known is the ‘Parsnip rooted’ (or ‘Hamburg’) variety, which is grown particularly for its celery-like root.
Parsley is pumped with so much goodness that small herbal halos can (almost) be seen above each sprig. High in iron, calcium, vitamins A, B complex, C and E, parsley works wonders for your innards, clearing toxins and stimulating the digestion. However too much powerful parsley is said to be bad for pregnant women.
Parsley makes a brilliant border or edging plant and a small forest of parsley is great to have by the kitchen door. It’s also shade tolerant so it’s ideal for that spot in the garden that gets no sun. Extend the harvesting season of your parsley by regularly picking stems from the outside of the plant. Don’t despair if your seeds aren’t coming up, as parsley seeds are notorious for slow germination and can take up to 20 days to sprout. Allow a circle about 15cm across for each plant. Parsley is reputed to be a good companion for asparagus and tomatoes.
Invite parsley to your Christmas celebrations by adding it to meals as a garnish, deep-frying some parsley tempura, chucking it into a salad and using sprigs as an edible brush when applying marinade. Parsley is also an excellent breath-freshener, concealing the odours of raw onion and garlic, so chew on some before your under the mistletoe snog.