Parsley

100_4036 smParsley is a ubiquitous herb, easy to overlook, easy to undervalue.

It is said its seeds must go to the devil and back seven times before germinating. I don’t think it takes quite that long, but parsley is slow to germinate.

Once up, though, parsley is tough and long-lasting. The plants I start in August will survive spring frosts to flourish through the heat and drought of summer, and continue flourishing through the cold wet winter, to be finally pulled out in October of the following year, when they begin to bolt, to make room for new plants.

We eat parsley by the handful (none of this Tablespoon stuff), and love it in risi e bisi, soup, potatoes, and gratins.

We grow both the Italian flat-leaf and the curly varieties (because, why not?), and enjoy the flat-leaf parsley fresh in salads (or just standing up in the garden as we pass by). We also enjoy parsley mixed with other fresh herbs to make a non-basil pesto that is lovely on pasta or as a topping for polenta crostini.

Of course, the best reason to grow parsley in much of the world is to attract the beautiful swallowtail butterflies, whose caterpillars specialise on parsley and related plants, incorporating the toxins from the plants into their exoskeletons to serve as defence. Unfortunately, we have no swallowtails in New Zealand, but the flowers of parsley attract bees, flies, and our native butterflies in large numbers.

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