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Petroselinum crispum

Apiaceae (Umbelliferae)

From southern Europe. Parsley makes an attractive edging for the herb, flower, or vegetable garden; it’s also good in window boxes and pots. Two kinds are commonly grown, both with finely cut dark green foliage: flat-leafed Italian parsley and curly-leafed French parsley. Leaves are used as a seasoning (both fresh and dried); fresh sprigs and minced leaves are classic garnishes. Flat-leafed parsley grows to 2–3 ft. high and 2 ft. wide; it is considered more flavorful than curly parsley, which grows to 6–12 in. high and wide and makes a more attractive garnish.

Parsley is best started fresh each year, from either nursery transplants or seed. Set out small plants or sow seeds in place—in spring after average last-frost date in cold-winter climates; in fall or early spring where winters are mild; in early fall in low desert. Soak seeds in warm water for 24 hours before planting. (Even after soaking, they may not come up for several weeks; according to an old story, parsley seeds must go to the devil and back before sprouting.) Thin seedlings to 1–1 1/2 ft. apart for flat-leafed parsley, 6–8 in. apart for curly parsley; or space plants at these distances. Harvest sprigs from the outside of the plant so that those on the inside will keep coming. 


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