As there seems to be a definite trend for people to support local agriculture and to consider growing some of their own food I thought I might share some information about a plant that is simple to grow and packed with nutrition and taste; Italian flat leafed parsley. This biennial plant (blooms in its second year then dies) is very easy to grow, and will virtually reseed itself year after year if you leave some of the plants to flower and produce seed. (Pictured below is self-seeded parsley beginning to bloom in the flower bed) Parsley is a staple is many kitchens and is recognized as a medicinal herb for its unique anti-oxidant properties. The plant will typically grow about 3 feet tall with a display of green leaves resembling coriander leaves. The flavour is however milder than coriander and spicier than the common curly parsley variety. Parsley is a good source of potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium and Vitamin C, A and K.
According to information found on Nutrition-And-You.com 100 grams of parsley provide the following US recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals. 38% of foliates, 220% of vitamin C, 281% of vitamin A, 1366% of vitamin K (this is a problem for pregnant women, yes the percentage is that large), 14% of calcium and 77% of iron. Since we are not in a climate where citrus fruits are easily grown, certainly the vitamin C content of this plant alone is worthy of consideration to ingest the vitamin C necessary for health and wellness.
The foliage of this plant is often used in salads and soups and can easily be frozen or dried at the end of the growing season for winter use. I have read where it is recommended to use the leaves and discard the stocks however I personally use the stocks in broths finally chopped especially if I do not have celery. Parsley adds pizzazz to pasta salads, omelet’s, soups, especially chicken soup and partners perfectly with tomatoes. Parsley is also one of the main ingredients in Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish which is made of bulgur, parsley, mint, tomato, onion, lemon juice and olive oil.
Parsley is also serves as a great companion plant for tomatoes. Parsley will attract wasps that feed on its nectar. These wasps offer protection to tomato plants as it also feeds on the tomato hornworm which is a predator to the tomato plant. Parsley is also used in some homepathic remedies. Bruised leaves are used to treat tumors, insect bites, lice and skin parasites and bruises. Please be aware that Parsley like any other herb or drug is counter indicated in some cases, especially in pregnant women so it is always wise to check with your doctor or homeopathic professional before using any herb for a specific medical condition.
This is a plant that can provide great flavour, nutrition, healing, aid in pest control and is easy to grow almost anywhere. There is nothing like the fresh flavour of something grown right in your own container or flowerbed.
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