World's most popular herb

Parsley herb pictureThe delicious and vibrant taste and wonderful healing properties of Parsley herb are often ignored in its popular role as a table garnish. Parsley, Petroselinum crispum, a member of the carrot family, is the world's most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning "rock celery" (parsley is a relative to celery). The plant is of South European (probably East Mediterranean) origin and became popular in more Northern latitudes in the Middle Ages, when it was commonly grown in monasteries and Imperial gardens.
Parsley is prized both for its looks and for fresh, grassy flavor. There are two common varieties: the mild curly parsley and the more flavorful Italian parsley. Use curly parsley if you want looks and Italian parsley if you want flavor. It combines very well with other herbs (Dill, Cilantro and Thyme), and tends to enhance food flavors.
           
 Parsley herb grows well in a deep pot, which helps accommodate the long taproot. Parsley grown indoors requires at least five hours of sunlight a day.

Culture

Container Size              8" - 10" depth, 8" to 10" diameter (if planted alone).

Plant Height                  Parsley plants grow to a height of 12 to 18 inches (30 - 45cm).

Seed Spacing               Soak seeds overnight to improve germination. Sow about 1" apart and cover them with a ¼" layer of the moist soil.

Seed Germination         21 to 28 days. Darkness aids germination.

Plant Spacing                Parsley plants should be spaced 9 to 12 inches (22 - 30cm) apart.

Soil Requirements         Tolerates most soils, but rich, well-drained, moist, with pH between 6 and 7 is best.

Growing Mix                  Soilless peat based potting mix.

Fertilizer                        Use a liquid fertilizer. Fertilize parsley every other week during watering

Sun & Lighting                Parsley prefers full sun and can tolerate some shade. It requires at least five hours of sunlight a day.

Water Requirements   Average water needs. Keep parsley well-watered at all stages of growth; do not ever let it really dry out.
Uses

Fresh parsley photoWhen taking leaves for use (or freezing), snip stalks off close to the ground, starting with the outside ones (that practice best encourages new growth).
Parsley is often used for sauces; the famous German Green Sauce is an example. Chopped parsley and garlic in olive oil make for a wonderful Mediterranean sauce, to be served to broiled fish.

As an alternative, especially in France, chervil leaves may serve the same purpose. French cooks frequently combine parsley with other fresh herbs (e.g., chervil or lemon balm) or use a classical composition, the renowned fines herbes (see Chives); this mixture may substitute pure Parsley leaves for any application, thus giving the dishes a richer aroma and somewhat Mediterranean character. The famous French recipe sauce béarnaise also makes use of fresh parsley leaves.

As parsley aroma suffers from any prolonged heat treatment, parsley leaves should not be cooked if distinct parley fragrance is desired; quick frying in olive oil, though, is acceptable.

An excellent source of vitamins A and C, it also contains niacin, riboflavin and calcium. Rich in chlorophyll, Parsley is also a breath freshener. Parsley can also act as a medicinal herb for diuretic and digestion properties. Parsley is also known to purify the blood and strengthening the immune system. It is known to be good for bladder infections, kidney and gall bladder complaints, arthritis and it alsoaids blood circulation.


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