Parsley is a biennial herb sold in most markets in Kenya. The herb is used in flavouring salads, soups and meats among other dishes, and is also used for garnishing. Growing parsley is a relatively easy task. Like in most crops, the first step of planting parsley is land preparation. Ideally, the land should have loamy soils, which should be rich in nitrogen. Additionally, the land should be in a position that is exposed either to full or partial sun. The herb has a long tap root, hence making it necessary for the farmer to work with loose and deep soil.
Parsley is planted directly into the ground. Seeds may take up to three or more weeks to germinate. Due to the long germination period, farmers are advised to soak the parsley seeds in slightly warm water a night before planting. The herb grows well in moist, well-drained and fertile soils with a preferred soil pH of between 6.0 and 7.0. Spacing between seeds should be 12 inches. Additionally, each seed should be planted at quarter (¼”) inch deep.
As indicated above, germination can take up to three or more weeks. Realistically however, a farmer should expect his parsley crop to have germinated by the 28th day. Clearly, growing this herb calls for patience. Before the seeds germinate, it is important for the farmer to water the ground well in order to ensure that the soil has consistent moisture levels, which are critical for germination. The herb will also need to be watered gently throughout its growth cycle. It is recommended that a farmer should allow the soil to dry before soaking the herb thoroughly and repeating the cycle whenever necessary.
Disease issues in parsley include stem leaf spots and stem rot, while pest issues include aphids, white flies and spider mites.
Parsley matures when the leaf stems have three segments. Ideally, this should occur two-and-a -half months (70 days) to three months (90 days) after planting. Harvesting can be done through picking a few leaves (for domestic use) or cutting the stems off when harvesting for commercial purposes.