Thursday, June 18, 2015


Working in the garden yesterday and I noticed that one of my parsley plants had already started to bolt. When a plant bolts, it is beginning the process to create seeds. If I were in the seed business rather than the herb business, that would be a good thing; however, since I want to be able to harvest parsley from that plant for the remainder of the season, I needed to take action immediately. Here is a picture of my parsley patch, but the bolting plant is just in the middle and not very visible.

So I'm thinking, why would parsley that I have just planted this season be bolting already? As I think back over the spring season, I know that I put my parsley out very early this year - mid-April actually. This is very early for my part of the country to begin planting anything except root vegetables. We then had a week in mid May where the temperatures went down to freezing. While we didn't have any frost to damage the plants, the cold temperatures could have given the plants the idea that they were experiencing winter.

Parsley here in my growing zone (zone 6) is a biennial and the parsley always bolts early in the second growing season. So that's the only think I can think of that would cause this to occur so early in the first growing season of the plant.

What did I do when I took action yesterday. I immediately cut back the plant that began to bolt, taking the bolted stem right to the ground. I then harvested my entire parsley crop, which I now have laid out to dry in my kitchen. With the humidity we've been experiencing here in south-central Pennsylvania, the AC is on, so it should be completed dry and ready for me to store in the next day or two. If I didn't have the AC on, I would be looking at another method of drying it for storage, mostly because when it is this humid, the herb just won't dry sufficiently to be put in a jar and placed in my herb cupboard. Perhaps using the dehydrator or freezing the harvest would have been the other ways I would have preserved my harvest for the coming winter use.

After making my first harvest of parsley, I decided I needed to look around the garden to ensure nothing else was moving toward the seed phase, and found that my oregano, the Greek variety that I have planted, is moving toward setting on flowers as
well. Another herb that needed the first harvest made immediately. For me unfortunately we had a little rain shower before I got to it, and this morning I woke to more rain, so it will have to wait for the next dry day, but it will be the first thing on my to-do list when that day arrives. Here you can see a picture of the oregano. The leaves are getting very small towards the top of the plant and you can begin to see how the flower pod is beginning to form. You always want to harvest before your herb gets to this point so maintain the best flavor of your harvest.

But back to parsley. This is a very misunderstood herb in my humble opinion. Everyone looks at it as more of a decoration in your cooking than a flavoring. And what about it's medicine qualities, way down on the list for many herbalists.

Parsley is one of our ancient herbs and its usage can be dated back to the 3rd century BC. While it may have a mild flavor when added to your favorite dish, it is also very high in vitamin C. It blends well with many other herbs without over-powering them or the dish you are adding it to. Just to chew on a fresh leaf is a great way to freshen your breath. Parsley is always a part of my bundle of herbs when I make up a bouquet garni, with the other herbs being chosen by the dish I'm making.

On the medicinal side of parsley, it has a multitude of uses. I use it in every diuretic blend I create, need some help to release the fluid being retained in your body, parsley is your herb. I also use it when helping someone with bladder infections as one of the ingredients in my blends. Beware though of using parsley in your blend if your kidneys are inflamed. You want to get your kidneys healthy before you begin to use parsley so you don't overtax them and make the inflammation worse. With Parsley being high in vitamin C and with the green leafy sprigs it is also high in chlorophyll, it makes a great addition to any antioxidant blend you are creating as well.

Happy Blending!!!

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