Friday, August 13, 2010

Polar Bear Parsley Seed

Parsley seeds ripe for the picking.

Year 1 - I started my parsley. Its germination was slow and erratic because of growth inhibitors in the seed coat. Carefully, I transplanted the delicate taproot into my coldframe. They grew well but I should have planted more. As if to compensate, those first few plants hunkered down as the snow fell providing me with a sparse harvest most of the winter.

Year 2 - I didn't think to start more. After an abundant flush of leaves in the spring, these biennials switched gears and put their energy into tall, waving flowerheads. The beneficials were grateful but it was the end of any substantial parsley harvest for me.

parsley in coldframe
Chilled parsley in coldframe

Year 3 - I started even more seeds than the first year but was shocked to discover that I didn't have to. Nearby the flowerheads of last year's plants was a field of volunteers. Neighbours began to find bags of bunched parsley plants on their doorknobs. I thinned them back to the boundaries of my garden.

Year 4 - More volunteers appeared and the two year old plants began to flower. I cut back most of them to prolong leaf production and to minimize thinning (my neighbours got eggplants that year).

Yearling revealing its crown in the bright sun.

Year n - Ever after, I have had plentiful parsley. In the spring, the two year old plants put on a flush of early growth. That year's seedlings take over leaf production in the summer, fall and a good part of the winter. I also dig some roots to force in winter on the window sill.

My parsley harvest may have had a slow start but there is no end in sight. If you would like to hop on the polar bear parsley express, send me an email (at right, under profile) and I'll pass along some of this year's seeds.


Fun and informative article from the West Virginia State University Extension Service -
That Devilish Parsley


Stefaneener said...

That's too funny. For me, it's chamomile. Can't keep up with it, can't kill it. Let's hear it for lusty volunteers!

Ottawa Gardener said...

I had the chamomile glut for many years - most of which turned into presents as I don't drink chamomile tea - but now I don't get so many unless I turn over a bit of soil then voila, the seed awakens.

TechChik said...

I've never tried over-wintering parsley, I'll have to try it - thanks!

btw - cold, plain chamomile tea is an antifungal that's great for preventing damping off in seedlings. I use it instead of water when I first plant tomato / pepper / etc seeds, and then again once every two weeks.

Cheryl said...

Mine is the morning glory. Three years I've been pulling the little plants as soon as I see them so they wouldn't have a chance to take over the fence. This year I turned a 1 square foot area and now I have morning glories. Those stay viable forever.

Daphne Gould said...

I used to grow parsley this way and I might again at this house. I find if I plant seed I get a better harvest for the space, but its work since parsley will plant itself.

thyme2garden said...

I just left my parsley outside (snow and all) last winter, not really thinking about whether they would survive. Mine also put out a flush of leaf growth early this spring, followed by quick bolting. My seeds are ready for harvesting, too. I had curly and flat leaf parsley planted next to each other, but the flower heads are all mixed together, so I have no idea which is which. I also read that they readily cross pollinate, so maybe some of my new seeds will be curly-flat hybrids?

Elin Wyller said...


I was wondering if I could use your picture of the ripe parsley seeds for a seed-saving handbook that I am making for Oslo Frøbibliotek (the first seed library in Norway). You'll be credited of course!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Of course, Elin Wyller (I'm actually Aster Lane Edibles now)