Saturday, September 18, 2010

Parsley in a Jiffy

Oh drat! Some of the flat-leaf parsley border is going to seed, rapidly, and so that means a few gaps in the line of plants need to be filled. But I have a cunning plan this time round.

Seedy parsley, fine of leaf, getting taller by the day, ready to flower, useless in the kitchen anymore. Yank it out, toss it on the compost heap, then start up some new plants. That's the problem. I never find parsley seedlings do all that well here. They start of well for the first few weeks then the first hot day they cark it.

Parsley definitely does better when started from seed. That's easy enough if I dig up a whole bed of it and sow a row of seed, but plugging gaps in an existing parsley border is more of a problem to get the babies established from seed in amongst the adults (and the weeds). That's where my cunning plan came into being. If I use Jiffy pots to start the parsley seedlings, I don't need to 'unpot' them and transplant the seedlings. I can just pop the seedling in its Jiffy pot in the ground and it should grow on, none the wiser that it has just been transplanted. Well, that's the theory.

I've known about Jiffy pots (deydrated compressed peat pots) ever since my student days in the early 70s, when various flatmates took up marijuana growing, and they invariably started up their illegal crops with good old Jiffies. The packaging is snazzier now, but the product is the same as ever.

They're a bit expensive: 24 Jiffies for about $8. I could make up my own biodegradable pots from simple newspaper, but Origami and I have never been on speaking, or folding, terms.

Like magic, just add water and the packet says they'll swell to seven times their original height.

One minute in and there's action aplenty.

Five minutes later and several are ready, but there's a few stragglers.

After about 10 minutes they're ready to go. "They look like little chocolate puddings," chimed in Pam as she wandered past.

My plan is to sow three plants notorious for hating being transplanted as seedlings: flat-leaf parsley, curly parsley and dill.

I haven't mastered the art of doing photography with my new microscope yet, but these parsley seeds are heavily ridged little tough nuggets under a microscope. No wonder it takes three to four weeks for water to penetrate and set off germination. However, I did soak the seeds for half an hour in hot water, and that's said to help speed things up. We'll see if it works or not in due course.

Dill seeds are larger. I've never had much luck with growing dill here, but I keep on trying. Fortunately, my local area has a big Greek population and every greengrocer has fresh dill. It's lovely with fish, or with baked vegetables, but it is a herb which needs to be used judiciously rather than generously.

Once all the Jiffies were fully expanded, I pulled back the fine fabric covers at the top, and planted the seeds. The dill seeds went in 10mm deep, the parsley seeds just 3mm deep.

As well as sowing the dill and parsley I also sowed two more punnets of shallot (ie, scallion or green onion) seed. We constantly use shallots here, they're one of my favourite backyard culinary plants, always very handy. I don't always grow shallots from seeds – shop-bought seedlings are just as good, but as I have some packets of seed here it seems silly to not use them. This little humidicrib cost less than $10 at Bunnings (local mega-giant hardware outfit) and it has worked a treat in raising all sorts of plant babies here. The green things on top slide, to let you adjust the amount of air inside.

So that's it so far. The shallot and dill seeds should be up in a week or so, but the parsley will take longer. I think the Jiffy pot idea will work, and it'll be a good way to plug a gap in a row of plants. Naturally enough, I'll report in on how the whole thing went when I know, in a few months' time.


Unknown said...

Yeah, all my magnificent parsley is bolting as well :( Can feel your pain.

Lanie said...

Mine too (parsley going to seed). I love Jiffy pots - I now raise all of my seeds in them. I find that they stay moist for quite a lot longer than standard seed raising mix.

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