I don’t have a garden exclusively for herbs — although that would surely be nice.
I do, however, plant a short row of parsley in my vegetable garden. It’s an herb I that use a lot when I’m cooking.
Parsley has a reputation for being difficult to grow from seed, a reputation it certainly deserves. You see, parsley can take up to four weeks to germinate and then it may do so erratically. I shudder to think of losing that much growing time. Our high elevation climate has a short enough growing season already.
So before I tuck them in the ground I give parsley seeds a head start by soaking them in warm water overnight to soften up their tough coat. Taking in the extra moisture speeds up the time it takes for the seeds to germinate. Actually the concept of soaking seeds is ages old. Our great-grannies probably did it.
Some advice from a professional seed soaker: Don’t soak your seeds so long that you end up drowning them. Think hours, not days. In fact, I often just spread the seeds out between layer of wet paper towels — and keep checking to make sure the towels stay good and wet — to soften up them up. Again, I often leave them overnight.
When the seeds have increased in size they are ready to plant.
Which seeds benefit from extra moisture before being put in the ground?
I’d say forego soaking little bitty seeds and work only with the bigger ones.
For example, I don’t pre-soak lettuce and carrot seeds. Their small seeds would stick to my fingers if they were moist and be hard to handle.
Some of the big or wrinkled seeds you might want to soak before planting include squash, beans, peas, chard and beets. I also moisten my sweet pea flower seeds for several hours before I plant them.
And, of course, all of my parsley seed — both varieties. Did you know that there is more than one kind of parsley?
The double-curled parsley — that variety that you often see used as a garnish in restaurants — is a very pretty plant. I sometimes even buy plants in little pots at greenhouses to use in container plantings. You see, curly parsley fills out nicely among the petunias and other annual plants
But it is the flat leaf (also called Italian parsley) that I plant the most of in my garden row.
Flat leaf is considered the best for culinary purposes because it has the strongest and most pronounced flavor.
This summer I am planting both kinds of parsley in my vegetable garden.
Yay. Spring time. I love it.