Parsley is an ancient green and a respected addition to many foods. But other times, its job is just to make a mealtime plate look pretty. Poor parsley, valued for its looks, then thrown away.
Yet parsley is a good source of vitamins and other nutrients. The taste is a little strong for some people, yet others chew on parsley to freshen their breath.
Curly parsley is the kind that often ends up being used just for appearance. Many gardeners grow curly parsley as a border for flowerbeds.
Flat-leaf parsley is easier to work with for cooking. This kind is often called Italian or French parsley.
Do you know about a third kind of parsley? Hamburg parsley has flat leaves that can be used for the same purposes as other parsley. But Hamburg parsley has a large root which is used as a vegetable. It can be used, for example, to add flavor to soups.
Hamburg parsley is popular, not surprisingly, in Germany, home to the city of Hamburg.
Parsley is often served with lamb, fish and beef dishes. It is also used in foods such as tabouli, a traditional Lebanese salad.
Parsley is an herb if you use just the greens. If the root is used, then parsley is considered a vegetable.
Some gardeners suggest that to get the best tasting parsley, you should plant new seeds every year. You can get parsley to grow faster by pouring warm water over the seeds. Leave the seeds in the water overnight. Then you can grow them in containers indoors or plant them outside.
Charlie Nardozzi is a writer for the National Gardening Association in the United States. He says parsley grows best when temperatures are under twenty-one degrees Celsius. In colder climates, parsley can go into the ground two to three weeks before the last winter freeze is likely to happen.
Charlie Nardozzi says parsley likes to grow in sunny places or in partial sun. The seeds need rich, moist soil. Plant the seeds about 15 to 25 centimeters apart. Water regularly during the first month. After that, parsley does not need very much water.
Ron Waldrop is a county extension director for the University of Illinois. He says you can harvest parsley by cutting most of the plant, or leave more of the plant in the ground for a second crop.
To dry parsley, tie the plant stems together and hang them upside down in a warm, dark, airy place. The leaves should be dry in a week or two. After that, store them in a tightly closed container.
And that's the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson. I'm Bob Doughty.