Friday, December 4, 2009

Parsley borders - lessons learned

Well, yet again I've learned something, this time about growing parsley. It was way back on August 1 that I did a post on starting up yet another parsley border, and today I can report that it has worked, sort of. To set the scene, though, I thought I'd fire up Photoshop and create another fab panorama of Amateur Land. (Click on the photos to make them bigger).

Early December and Pam has already put out our Santa gnome, named Ravi, after a dear friend of ours. As for the rest of the garden it's chugging along nicely. In the foreground on both sides of the path are the parsley borders, although the 'border' on the right is being swallowed by tomatoes, but I don't mind.

Doing very nicely is the curly parsley border. It always makes the best looking borders for vegie beds, such a pretty herb.

The one big drawback with growing parsley from seed is that the seed is soooo slow to germinate – usually three to four weeks. Another drawback, however, is that parsley seedlings don't transplant well. A lot of them go into shock and die, and so it's generally said that the best way to grow parsley is from seed. And so I came up with the idea of planting both seeds and seedlings, hoping for a faster start but good results in the long run, too. That is working, sort of, but this is where I've learned my lesson...

... ie, the plants started off as seedlings are going to seed already, after just four months in the ground. Pathetic. All the seed-grown plants are still in the flush of vigorous youth, and so I have learned my lesson. Grow parsley from seed, Jamie. Yes, sir.

Over on the other side of the path, it's almost the same story, except that the parsley border is being monstered, swamped, taken over by my Alaska tomato plants. 'Vigorous' hardly describes their growth, and so the path-edge plantings of parsley are fighting a losing battle. But I want these tomato plants to succeed so much that the poor old parsley is just going to have to live with it.

In spots here and there where the Alaska tomatoes haven't staged a land grab, there is flat leaf parsley to harvest.

But like the curly leafed cousin across the path, the seedling-grown flat leaf parsley is also going to seed already, while the seed-grown flat leaf stuff is at least looking perfectly normal, even if it is suffering a mugging by Alaskan tomatoes.

Lesson learned. Parsley from seed, from now on. No more seedlings, ever.

In fact I also learned this same lesson this year with my carrots. Carrots are related to parsley, and this year I grew my best crop ever. How? From seed. Previous crops grown from seedlings ended up with lots of weirdo carrots. Apparently the same goes for another close relative, parsnips. These guys just like to sprout as seeds where they are to grow, and never be moved again. Move them and there's trouble, weirdness, early seeding, or death. Sow seed and nature takes its course, slowly but beautifully.


Chookie said...

Id completely agree with growing parsley, parsnip and carrots from seed (though I can't seem to grow carrots anyway...). The saying was that parsley seed had to go seven times to the devil and back before it would sprout! When your parsley seed is ripe, just strew it where you want it to grow and at least some will come up. I've heard that the issue with parsnip is that the seed needs to be very fresh to germinate, so I always allow some parsnip plants to bolt. The flower heads are quite decorative.

Lani said...

What a great idea for a blog! Your garden looks much like my mum's, who is also in the inner west. She is currently doing battle with a mulberry tree that has dug its roots in deep and steals all the sun.

Good luck with the parsley, such a handy herb that tastes so good!

Unknown said...

I am so a garden amateur. Never thought to make a parsley border though! Will have to try that!

allison tait said...

My parsley is going crazy - after a very slow start! Thanks for Rewinding!

Kylah said...

Ha, I never knew that carrots were related to parsley. Will remember your tip to start from seed when we get home from travelling, although I've never had much luck growing herbs. The never look as lush and healthy as yours!