“Parsley?!!?,” you say! “Why parsley? Everybody knows about parsley…”
Well, maybe you don’t. Parsley is the most popular herb in the world. Native to the Mediterranean, it is now cultivated on every continent and is an ingredient in more cuisines than any other vegetable/herb. It may be the oldest vegetable/herb cultivated by mankind. As a culinary herb it has been used for more than 2,000 years, but as a medicinal herb it has been used for much longer. It was introduced into the British Isles in the 1500s and brought to America with the earliest colonists. It is described by McMahon in the very first book on American horticulture, The American Gardener’s Calendar, (1806), and is included in the 1839 Landreth Catalog, the oldest Landreth catalog still in existence. Most Americans now think of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley as the parsley to cook with, curly leafed as the condiment parsley and Hamburg-rooted as the parsley no one has ever heard of. Actually, curly-leafed parsley, for the American palate, is excellent because its milder flavor does not dominate the other flavors in a dish. Flat-leafed parsley has such a strong flavor that it often masks the other flavors in a dish. Also curly-leafed parsley is much, much more cold tolerant than flat-leafed. With good mulching, in most winters, curly-leafed can be harvested all winter at Zone 5 and higher. Perhaps the neatest characteristic of parsley is that it is an excellent companion plant. It attracts many beneficial pollinators and insects. When planted near tomato plants it is known to attract the wasp that preys on tomato hornworms. What better friend can you have than that?