Saturday, August 1, 2009

Parsley border patrol

I am such a sucker for a curly parsley border. Those billowy little green clouds of foliage hugging the ground look like a jolly, fat caterpillar sunning itself in the garden. Last year’s borders were my best so far, but they were slow to get going, so this year I have a cunning plan for a faster start and an equally good finish!

This is how the curly parsley border looked around midsummer last year, surrounding my first attempt at a potager garden bed. I still think the best thing about that little potager patch was the pretty green border!

Later on in early autumn, after I pulled out all the summer flowers and vegies from the potager, the parsley border was still humming along well. Into the re-prepared potager bed went vegies, herbs and salad greens. Just a few weeks later the whole thing looked a lot better just as a vegie/herb bed – with a lush, green parsley border.

This view up the path from earlier this year shows some of the curly border on the left and, on the right, the short border of flat-leaf parsley. It’s nowhere as pretty as the curly parsley border, but as I use a lot of the flat-leaf stuff in cooking, I thought I might as well plant a row of it.

This shows what’s so nice about a good, dense curly parsley border. Every bit as handsome as it is edible (and I do use it cooking, too – it’s not just for show!).

By comparison the flat leaf parsley border just doesn’t have all that much charisma in the garden, but it’s mighty useful in the kitchen.

Each year some of my parsley plants either go to seed or just yellow and die off in midwinter, so I pull them all out, even if a few plants are soldiering on scrappily. Today I replanted the whole thing, but this time I have a cunning plan – I’m using both seeds and seedlings. Pictured here is the curly parsley I planted earlier today. Already looks nice!

And pictured here is the flat leaf parsley, also planted earlier today. OK, it’s cute as a kid.

Last year’s borders were my best ever, and they were entirely grown from seed. The problem was they were very slow to get going. Parsley seeds take three to four weeks to germinate, and the first month or two after that it’s still slow progress. But if you wanted to create a nice border just by sprinkling seed, you'll get one in the end.

I’ve tried growing borders purely from seedlings in the past, but a few plants always seem to die and you end up with a few goofy looking ‘gaps’ in the little green hedge. Parsley seedlings are notoriously finicky and very subject to transplant shock. They need a lot of care to get them settled in. (Parsley is related to both carrots and parsnips, and both of these also do better planted as seeds rather than as transplanted seedlings.)

So this time round I’m trying to get the best of both worlds: the fast start from the seedlings, plus bringing up the rear, the lush reliability of the seed-raised plants. Only time will tell if it works as well as, or hopefully better than, last year’s border, but I have my fingers crossed that this is going to work well. We’ll see!


Chandramouli S said...

Wow! The parsley border looks fantastic. The nice thing about parsley is it almost always looks fresh and new and lord, do I love the smell of it! How about some Mums in the center? It'd look awesome wouldn't it?

LC said...

I was just thinking that my front garden needed a bit of a lift and I have planted curly parsley seedlings and seeds - great idea. Thanks. Will pop the photos up when they grow a bit.

Border Patrol Salary said...

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