Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Parsley in the Garden- many uses

The first time I planted parsley in my garden was in Florida. I did it to have on hand to feed my husband’s cockatiels. At the time we had an aviary of breeding birds and they liked to eat parsley as a source of greens. Caterpillars found it and ate more than half of my plants!

Then we moved to Georgia and no longer had the birds. This time I planted the parsley as a landscape plant in my garden. Both times I had plenty of extra to use in cooking. Then we moved again this time to South Carolina. This time I was working on a Backyard habitat for birds and butterflies and wanted to attract the black swallowtail butterfly caterpillar I planted a lot of parsley including curly, flat leaf and cilantro along with dill, fennel and Queen Anne’s lace from seed. Once again I had a lot of extra for cooking but no caterpillars this time!

Most of my plants over wintered and were really huge. One day in late spring I went to pick some parsley for cooking and discovered my plant was stripped and I saw 5 or 6 fat caterpillars. Checking my other plants I discovered caterpillars on most of my plants. Since that time I always plant extra parsely, dill and fennel just to feed the caterpillars. Once in a while I’ll see a Black Swallowtail Chrysalides, and when I’m really lucky I see a butterfly recently emerged and drying its wings before flying off to find a flower.

Butterfly Gardening: A host plant for the Black swallowtail butterfly

Landscape uses: For small gardens, parsley makes a great edging for flowerbeds and borders. When used for this purpose, it is best to sow parsley seed thickly in late October or November in twin rows close together (3 or 4 inches apart).

Kitchen uses: Parsley is perhaps one of the most commonly used herbs in the kitchen. From a culinary standpoint, parsley can be used as an ingredient or garnish for most any dish.

Parsley Root: Parsley root can be served as a boiled vegetable.

Leaves: Whether fresh or dried, parsley leaves can add a touch of flavor and color to most any dish. Minced green leaves are often mixed with other vegetables just before being served. Parsley transforms plain, boiled potatoes to a new level particularly when young, red potatoes are used.

Whether you like to cook or just attract butterflies parsley is a good choice for your garden.

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