Over the years, parsley has been promoted from the lowly position on the corner of plates to top-rated fodder for green juices. Whether you see it as a frilly garnish or worthy of top-billing, one thing is for sure: parsley punches above its weight in flavor and health benefits. If you have a hankering to grow this classic italian herb indoors, then you’re in luck. While not an entry-level herb (it can be a little tricky to start), with a little know-how and some perseverance, you should be able to grow a tasty, abundant crop of parsley year-round.
Curly leaf vs Flat leaf
Curly leaf parsley
The classic focus on curly parsley is primarily as a garnish, but also has other uses. Generally speaking, when a recipe calls for parsley the Italian flat-leaf variety is more commonly used.
Flat leaf parsley(Italian Parsley)
The fresh, pungent flavors it lends to stews, marinades, salads, and sauces more than proves parsley’s value as a key ingredient.
Truthfully, it’s hard to find any savory dish that doesn’t benefit from a smattering of parsley. These days, you’ll find it not only in food, but in beverages, too. Parsley regularly shows up in the ingredients of green drinks, touted for its antioxidant and nutrient-dense properties.
This unassuming herb does more than just a add pizzazz to pizzas and frittatas– long before it made it to the dinner plate, it was in the medicine cabinet. Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine” was fond of prescribing parsley root to relieve kidney and bladder ailments, and parsley was used in ancient times to treat bronchitis, digestive disorders, and more.
As it turns out, parsley lives up to the hype. Modern science has isolated a parsley compound called apiol that is effective in treating kidney stones and urinary disorders. Another compound, called apigenin, may help to reduce cancerous tumors. What’s more, the green-juice market is right to promote the power of parsley: rich in antioxidants, vitamins A and C, and antihistamines, it reduces inflammation and helps the body fight off infection. Basically, you want parsley around, which brings us to our next section.
Growing parsley indoors
Flat-leaf parsley is a perfect plant to grow in containers and indoor herb gardens, thanks to its hardiness. The Latin name of parsley, Petroselinum crispum, comes from the Greek word for stone– based on the rocky outcroppings where it preferred to grow. This should give you some idea of the conditions flat-leaf parsley thrives under: full sunlight, and lots of it, at least 5-8 hours per day.
Parsley is an intermediate-level herb to grow, if only because of its exceptionally long germination period. It can take parsley seeds several weeks to sprout, which was why farmers were superstitious about it in ancient times: they believed the seeds had to travel to hell and back seven times before they could grow! Some refused to grow it at all, which was their loss.
If you have a sunny window sill with southern exposure, that should be perfectly sufficient full sun light in the summer months. In the winter, you will need supplemental light no matter what. If you need a little help achieving optimal light levels, no worries. A full-spectrum LED panel grow light will bathe your parsley in the right type and amount of light it needs. For best results, suspend lights just over the surface of the plant and raise the light as the plants grow. This ensures healthy, dense growth.
Container and soil type
Find a container that is both wide and deep enough to keep your plants happy. A long window box planter is an ideal choice, as it should give you enough space to plant between 4 and 6 plants (enough for an ample supply of fresh parsley).
Parsley plants grow best with 6 inches of space between them. Rectangular window box-type planters also typically come with trays that fit beneath them– critical for keeping overflow water off your window sills or table tops.
The best soil to grow parsley is a potting mix for vegetables. In lieu of that, find a potting mix that is light and contains a mix including perlite or vermiculite, coir or peat moss, and compost. (we carry FoxFarm soils & fertilizers)
Never pack your soil too tightly into a pot, just press it gently into the pot slightly moist and pat it down. Don’t be afraid to fill the pot almost to the top– water the pot thoroughly outside using a watering can or a hose with a spray attachment and the soil will settle as the water drains. Starting with uniformly moist soil will help encourage healthy root growth.