Propagation of parsley is from seed only.
Planting of parsley seedlings and direct seeding is done by hand and mechanically. Directly sow about 50 seeds per meter row to ensure a full stand of parsley. Thin out later to the desired plant density if required.
Plants should be spaced 10 cm apart in rows that are 20 cm to 30 cm apart. This is about 300 000 to 450 000 parsley plants per hectare. Rows must also be left for the tractors as well as spraying and harvesting equipment.
Sow parsley seeds in early spring and try to miss the last frosts. Even though parsley is frost resistant it is best to avoid when they are just starting to grow. In South Africa this is mid-August. In areas with mild winters, late summer or early autumn plantings can be done to crop in early spring or even during the winter months.
Make parsley seedlings in the greenhouse during June and July. This will gain a few weeks on production time. Plant the seedlings out when they are about 15 cm tall. This can also be done in mid-August.
From the time the seeds are planted to when the first harvest can be done is about twelve weeks. Thereafter the parsley can be harvested three to four times more. Cut the parsley 15 cm above the ground allowing enough stem and one or two leaves for re-growth. The time to next harvest should be about five weeks and every five weeks throughout summer.
Fertilize according to soil analysis done on the soil prior to planting. Use about 200 kg of 3:1:5 before planting into the top 10 cm of soil. The same amount of 3:1:5 again, side dressed along the plant rows when parsley plants are about 20 cm high, should be ample until the first harvest. Apply the same amount of 3:1:5 after each consecutive harvest. Foliar feeds are also good to promote healthy foliage.
Parsley has a relatively shallow root system and is therefore sensitive to moisture stress. It is therefore very important to keep the soil at the optimum capacity advised for the type of soil. Install moisture readers for constant monitoring. Stress will slow growth and produce less foliage to harvest.
Parsley can be irrigated by sprinkler or drip. Drip is however best as it keeps the leaves dry and sprinklers can damage the tender plants. Wet foliage can cause fungus growth. Depending on the weather and temperature parsley requires about 35 to 40 mm of irrigation per week. It is advisable to spread this irrigation over two to three applications per week. On sandier soils irrigation could be required as often as every second day. Mulching is advised as this lessens evaporation. This will also control the emergence of weeds. Plastic or organic mulching can be used.
By Louise Brodie