Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Parsley Sweetens the Soul

We've been focused on some of the early tomatoes these past weeks, getting them off to a good start. But today we switch gears and assemble the ingredients for our Valentine Day CLASSIC LOVE POTION Herb Bowl. The ingredients are Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.  We may add a Pansy or Viola for color, and a trinket, maybe, to assist with the love spell.
Why these herbs?  Parsley provokes lust and love, and sweetens the soul (and the breath).  Sage magically honors weddings and ensures domestic harmony.  Rosemary is the herb of fidelity.  Thyme makes a lady irresistible to men and helps her identify her true love.
The Sage, Rosemary and Thyme plants are already in three-inch containers in the greenhouse, growing slowly in these short winter days.  We keep them in full sun on unheated tables and maintain moderate moisture to protect against frost.  The are looking good and will be ready to transplant as soon as the Parsley and Violas reach the proper size.   This year we will use a red bamboo fiber biodegradable container rather than the plastic ovals shown on our website (www.colecanyonfarm.com).
Today we start parsley seed.  Sounds simple enough.  But which parsley?  The old adage - "Sow parsley, sow babies!" is true for all of them.  Johnny's Seed Catalog has four types of parsley seed: A medium flat leaf, a large curly leaf, a petite flat leaf and the gigantic Italian flat leaf.  We offer the Italian Giant in spring for a quick transplant.  It has a deep taproot that does not rest easy in a small market container and is way too big for a Love Potion bowl.  So we will select the petite flat leaf or the triple curl - either of which will stay comfortable in the container for a couple of months, especially if they are kept well trimmed.
Parsley seed can be a little chaotic on the germination shelf.  While the tomatoes and pepper seedlings spring up in fairly strict order and mature with military precision, parsley seeds march to their own drummer. First this one appears, then that one - then nothing, then a bunch, a few show off true leaves while half of the tray appears to be empty.  With patience, though, they will all emerge and then spring to life quickly.  They are easily transplanted into Love Potion containers and three-inch pots for sale at early spring farmers' markets.  
We recommend that parsley be planted into the garden in early spring or late summer.  It likes a deep, friable soil, cool temperatures, and moderate to hight nutrition.  We use it in the garden as a nursery plant for other, more tender plants that need a little protection from the sun and winds, so we start it early enough to be well established by the time the soil is warm enough for basil.  It also provides a nice amount of shade for emerging French Tarragon.
Chop it into salads, juice it, make a pesto, use it as a garnish, or combine it with Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme to cast a spell on the one you love!

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