Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ways to Startle Parsley

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Ways to Startle Parsley

Article excerpt

Did Ogden Nash truly think "Parsley/ Is gharsley?" I suspect he just liked the awful rhyme. The man was a verbal plotter, but definitely not a horticultural one.

As for our plotters, if there is a herb that counts for anything, it is probably parsley.

On the whole, though, thoroughly edible plants seem more valued than mere flavoring plants. There are occasional exceptions. Odd clumps of chives. A mound or two of golden oregano. Mint colonizing neglected corners.... Monty likes to cultivate basil. Bob O'Neill grows borage (or at least he has it in his plot, where it grows itself). The Macleods have a good thyme. I give a home to rosemary and sage, marjoram and mint - and parsley. But last year's crop is running to seed, and this year's sowing is a disastrous scattering of four spidery plants with dim career prospects. The serious vegetable plotters, like Billy Fullerton, want all their ground for serious vegetables. But even he grows parsley. I discovered this yesterday when I stopped by his immaculate plot for a few moments of sincere awe and a question. He is growing exactly 20 curly-leaf parsley plants, and precisely 12 flat-leaf parsley plants. In laser-straight rows, they are spaced a punctilious foot apart. My question happened to be about parsley germination. Sown annually, parsley has a longstanding reputation for being obstetrically obstinate, for "not wanting to come out of the oven." Even professionals complain about it. But I suspected Billy would find it no problem, and I was right. "Simple," he said. All the same, his methodology contained a surprise. He sows the seed in a trench. He boils water in a kettle in his shed. He pours it on the seeds. "On the seeds?" "Right on them." I knew that boiling water has folklorically been linked to parsley germination. Beth Chatto, one of England's most eminent gardeners, in a letter to another of that lofty ilk, Christopher Lloyd, (in the fascinating book "Dear Friend and Gardener," Frances Lincoln, 1998) confesses: "Whether it be an old wives' tale or not, I always pour a kettle of boiling water along the drills before I sow parsley. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.