Parsley is the world’s most popular herb. It derives its name from the Greek word meaning “rock celery” (parsley is a relative to celery). It is a biennial plant that will return to the garden year after year once it is established.
Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. It is a good source of iron and folate. Parsley’s volatile oil components include myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene. Its flavonoids include apiin, apigenin, crisoeriol, and luteolin.
While parsley is a wonderfully nutritious and healing food, it is often under-appreciated. Most people do not realize that this vegetable has more uses than just being a decorative garnish that accompanies restaurant meals. They do not know that parsley is actually a storehouse of nutrients and that it features a delicious green and vibrant taste.
Soil nutrients required
A natural healer
Parsley’s volatile oils-particularly myristicin-have been shown to inhibit tumor formation in animal studies, and particularly, tumor formation in the lungs. Myristicin has also been shown to activate the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase, which helps attach the molecule glutathione to oxidized molecules that would otherwise do damage in the body. The activity of parsley’s volatile oils qualifies it as a “chemoprotective” food, and in particular, a food that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens (like the benzopyrenes that are part of cigarette smoke and charcoal grill smoke).
Anti Oxidants in Parsley
The flavonoids in parsley-especially luteolin-have been shown to function as antioxidants that combine with highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules (called oxygen radicals) and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
Parsley against heart disease
Parsley is a good source of folic acid, one of the most important B vitamins. While it plays numerous roles in the body, one of its most critical roles in relation to cardiovascular health is its necessary participation in the process through which the body converts homocysteine into benign molecules. Homocysteine is a potentially dangerous molecule that, at high levels, can directly damage blood vessels, and high levels of homocysteine are associated with a significantly increased risk of heart attack and stroke in people with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease. Enjoying foods rich in folic acid, like parsley, is an especially good idea for individuals who either have, or wish to prevent, these diseases. Folic acid is also a critical nutrient for proper cell division and is therefore vitally important for cancer-prevention in two areas of the body that contain rapidly dividing cells-the colon, and in women, the cervix.
Protection against Rheumatoid Arthritis
While one study suggests that high doses of supplemental vitamin C makes osteoarthritis, a type of degenerative arthritis that occurs with aging, worse in laboratory animals, another indicates that vitamin C-rich foods, such as parsley, provide humans with protection against inflammatory polyarthritis, a form of rheumatoid arthritis involving two or more joints.
Take care when germinating
Starting parsley from seed is slow. It can take several weeks for the seeds to germinate. Pre-chilling the seed in the refrigerator and then soaking the seed overnight in warm water, before planting, helps speed the process slightly and gives better germination results.
Manage soil pH level
Seed can be started indoors or sown outdoors, once the ground can be worked. Plant in a rich, loamy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Parsley can tolerate wet soils, once established, but to thrive it needs good drainage.
Space them out
Sow rows about 10-12″ apart, barely covering the seed. Thin plants to every 6″, once they are about 1-3″ tall.
Growing condition in growbags
Parsley can be grown fairly well in pots, however parsley has a tap root that can get fairly long and a mature plant can easily reach 2-3′ in height and 1-2′ in width, so a large pot is needed.
Careful to avoid animals
Parsley is sometimes recommended as an edging plant or an accent foliage plant. While parsley is very attractive, be aware that it is also popular with some small animals.