Parsley is one of the staples of many herb gardens in the UK and can be an abundant and productive herb. In a polytunnel, parsley grown well and in the right conditions can thrive all year round. This versatile herb can be used in a wide range of different recipes and an be an extremely useful addition to a polytunnel kitchen garden.
Parsley is not difficult to grow, though patience is required to grow this herb from seed since it can be extremely slow to germinate and get started. There are two types of parsley that are commonly used in cooking – flat leaf parsley and curly leaf parsley. Both can take up to a month to germinate, but once it has done so, two sowings a year can guarantee you a healthy supply of this fresh herb throughout the year.
Sow parsley between March and May and, if required, you can also sow a second batch for fresh, young leaves over winter in the early autumn. Sow shallowly and make sure to keep well watered, especially when the weather is warm and dry in the spring and summer. Warming the soil a little before planting may help to aid in germination, though patience will still be required.
When the flower stalks form, it is important to remove these so that you can continue to harvest the foliage of your plants. As with most leafy plants, parsley will benefit from a good quality nitrogen rich organic feed, though once growing, parsley is extremely low maintenance and will not need a lot of looking after. You may wish to snip off any older, lower leaves that turn yellow as this will also help to encourage new growth.
Parsley may be a beneficial trap crop to attract pests that would otherwise prey on your tomato plants. It may also be a beneficial companion plant for peppers, pumpkins and a range of other plants due to the fact that it can encourage useful predatory insects to your polytunnel.
When you wish to harvest your parsley, take single leaves as required or cut bunches low down on the stems with a pair of scissors. Parsley is best used fresh but can also be dried or frozen for use later in the year if you are not growing an overwintering crop.