Parsley – Flat or Curled

Curled (left) and Flat (right) Parsley
Curled (left) and Flat (right) Parsley

There are two varieties of parsley.  One is an Italian variety with flat leaves and the other has curled leaves.   In the past, I bought a plant each summer of the flat parsley.  By mid summer, it bolted and died off.  This year I decided to try growing organic flat parsley from seed (see www. Burpee.com) and I bought a starter plant of curled parsley.  I sowed a row of flat parsley in one of the raised vegetable beds under the outer edge of a tomato plant which gave the plant some shade from the afternoon soon.  I planted the curled parsley in my herb garden in an area that got some afternoon shade.  This was my best parsley harvest ever.  I think partial shade is the way to go!

Since parsley is a biennial, it takes two years to complete its life cycle.  The plant will produce the flowers/seeds in the second year.  If you want to continue harvesting leaves in the second year, then you will need to cut the flower heads which contain the seeds so the plant will focus on producing leaves.  Another option is to grow parsley as an annual.  If you want the seeds, then let the flower pod dry and harvest the seeds.

Now that it is getting cold, I moved the curled parsley to the same raised bed with the flat parsley.  Both are now under cover in one of my cold frames.  Parsley is very cold tolerant and does really well in a cold frame!

I like the tender younger leaves.  Unless you grow a lot of parsley plants, don’t harvest the entire plant.  You can just harvest the leaves and stems as needed.  This way the plant will keep on giving!

20141118_105813We typically use parsley in salads and soups.  The flat parsley has a stronger flavor than the curled parsley.  You often see the curled parsley used as a garnish in restaurants.  I keep some parsley cuttings in a glass of water on the kitchen counter to use as needed.  This way I don’t have to go out everyday in the cold weather.