Mary's Veggie Garden

May 5, 2012


Filed under: Gardening,Herbs,Parsley — marysveggiegarden @ 6:21 am

I transplanted parsley Thursday (5/3) so here are a couple of stories about parsley. The variety I’m working with this year which appears in the photos is Prezzemolo Gigante d’Italia.

5/4 Parsley seedlings

Parsley seed has a thick seed coat. The packet says to soak the seed for up to 24 hours before planting to speed germination. April 6 I put seed in a cup of water to soak. Then I got distracted and didn’t plant until 4/9. It didn’t take long to discover that three days was not too much soaking. This parsley sprouted the fastest I’ve ever seen.

I planted the seed into a  4-cell pack, around 10 seeds/cell. The seed was wet and clumpy and difficult to distribute. I dropped the seeds on top and used a toothpick to stir it into the surface of the potting mix.

Parsley seedlings have roots 6″-7″ long.

The parsley grew fast and thickly, and I didn’t even try to thin it. Yesterday I figured it was time to separate it into individual pots or plant it outside. I did both. If the slugs eat the outside plants, or squirrels dig them up, I’ll have replacements

The parsley seedlings look small but already they have roots 6″-7″ long. This was a big surprise, particularly since similar sized basil had  a branching root structure only 1.5″ long.

During transplanting I discarded small seedlings, those with roots less than 4″ long.

Parsley seedlings potted up to a plug tray.

Some plants (those from the empty cell in the first picture) were replanted into a plug tray with 2″ deep cells. It was a challenge to stuff the long roots into the cell. I wonder how they will thrive.

The remainder of the plants went into the garden where the planting was much easier.

When a plant has long roots, my goal is to get those roots as deep into the soil as possible without burying the top of the plant.  A plant with deep roots can reach moisture even when the soil is dry on the surface.

Narrow trowel for planting.


1) Remove weeds, loosen the soil with a fork, and rake smooth.

2) Using a narrow trowel (bulb planter), make a hole by thrusting the trowel into the soil and then moving it a couple of inches to the side.

Dangling the roots into the hole.

3) Holding the plant gently, dangle the roots into the hole. This is tricky because the roots curl and may catch on the side of the hole or the trowel. It works best if I keep the blade of the trowel vertical. I’m happy if the longest root goes most of the way in without catching on the trowel. When the trowel is removed the soil falling into the hole carries the root further down.

This technique works best when the soil is moist but not soggy. If the soil is too dry, the side of the hole will collapse when the trowel is moved to the side to open the hole. With soggy soil you risk compaction. Thursday the soil was a bit too wet, but OK to work with. I did have to stop to remove the mud from the trowel so the roots wouldn’t catch on the mud.

Got those roots just where I want them!

A true story: Parsley is a biennial and tolerates very cold weather quite well. The roots of most of my plants live through the typical Hudson Valley winter, and grow new foliage in the spring.

Knowing this, in 2010 I decided to plant parsley very early.  I bought a 4-pack at the nursery and planted 3/31. The plants grew slowly. We had normal spring weather, some warm, most cool or cold.

A tiny seeding: planted. Keep the cotyledons and leaves above the soil.

Surprise: in early summer the plants started bolting! By mid-summer all were in bloom. The plants ‘thought’ they’d gone through a full year in two seasons: warm nursery = first summer, cold spring garden = winter, warm summer = second year. The lesson is that if I want parsley in late summer through fall, don’t plant too early.



  1. Looks good! What are some of the ways you eat parsley? do you use it in pesto?
    Happy Gardening :0)

    Comment by Kim — May 6, 2012 @ 11:34 am | Reply

    • Hi Kim,
      No, I’ve never got into making pesto. It goes into salads year round, and it the fall and winter it goes into soups & stuffing. I usually freeze a bag for winter use.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — May 6, 2012 @ 12:08 pm | Reply

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