Growing Parsley in The Northern Territory
Parsley is a delicious and incredibly nutritious herb to grow in your garden. It can be hard to establish, but once it’s settled in, it’s easy to care for and produces abundantly. Parsley can be sown and grown in the dry season in The Top End. It can struggle in the very hot humid summers, so if your plants are looking unhappy, try moving them undercover.
Parsley is very good for you and one of the wonderful things about growing your own herbs is that you can use them in handfuls instead of pinches in your food. It not only creates a delicious flavour, but also means that you really get the nutritional benefit of the herbs too.
There are two main varieties of parsley, curly and flat leafed. The flat leaf varieties are generally favoured for cooking because they are easier to chop, have a finer texture and stronger flavour. The curly varieties hold their own though, and still have a good flavour as well as being a pretty addition to the garden. Rooted parsley is a third type which is much rarer, but can be found from some specialist or heirloom seed suppliers. Along with the usual parsley leaves, it produces a large, edible root which is similar to a parsnip, but with a distinctive parsley flavour. It’s a fun veggie to grow if you’re looking for something different and is great roasted with other root vegetables.
Parsley is a biennal and will produce an abundance of leaves in it’s first year and then go to seed in the second year. It’s tough and hardy so it’ll go through the summer heat and winter cold with no problems.
Don’t let the soil dry out and be sure to give them enough space. Parsley is a thirsty plant and needs a moist soil to really thrive. Follow the spacing suggestions for planting parsley. The plants grow bigger than you’d expect and the yields are far better if they have enough space.
Parsley does best in full sun, but can grow quite successfully in more shady areas as well.
Parsley thrives in a rich, moist soil. Work in plenty of organic compost and well-rotted manure.
Parsley can be sown in the dry season.
Soak seeds in water overnight.
Parsley can be hard to germinate, so if you’re new to gardening or in a rush to start picking you’re your plants, then you may prefer to plant seedlings. To sow, scatter the seed and cover with a little compost. Water well and keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate. Some people recommend watering the seeds with hot water straight after you plant and then continuing with normal cold water. Others recommend soaking the seeds overnight before planting. You can do either, or neither, the seeds take notoriously long to germinate, and the hot water or soaking can speed up the process. If you plant them without any special preparation, they usually take three or four weeks to germinate. If you soak or water the seeds with warm water, the germination time can be shortened to about two weeks.
Parsley can be planted during the dry season.
Add a small amount of bonemeal to each hole to encourage strong root growth. Parsley plants grow larger than you’d expect, so take note of the suggested spacing for optimum yields. If you’re using them as a pretty border, they can be spaced closer, the yields will be less, but the closer spacing looks far better.
Parsley doesn’t need much care, but harvesting from your plants regularly will give you bushier plants.
Parsley is quite a thirsty plant. For best results, you need to keep the soil moist.
Parsley is hardy and tough and can handle a fair amount of neglect, but to get the best out of your plants, feed them regularly with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer to promote the growth of those lovely green leaves. Worm tea, fish emulsion or an organic, nitrogen-rich fertilizer are all good options. Remember, your plants need to be fed more often during the rainy season.
Parley loves a moist soil, so give your plants a good layer of mulch to keep the moisture in and weeds out. Lucerne, peastraw and sugarcane are all great organic options.
You can start harvesting from your plants as soon as they’re a reasonable size. Pick stalks from the outside of the plant and always leave enough leaves for the plants to keep photosynthesizing and producing more of those tasty leaves.
If you plant a large area of parsley, you can also wait until the plants are nice and big and then cut them off at root level. The plant will regrow and can be harvested in this way 3 or 4 times before it needs to be replaced.