Parsley is more than a garnish. The bright green leaves are packed with vitamins and add flavor to your dishes. While you can pick up a bunch of parsley in the store, it always seems to taste better when fresh from the garden.
Growing parsley at home is easier than you may think, especially using square-foot gardening techniques.
Square foot gardening (SFG) is a crucial concept for small spaces. It also works in larger areas by allowing you to easily keep your herbs and vegetables separate from other garden plants.
So, what is square gardening? It is a raised garden box you divide into 4×4 blocks. You sow the plants in boxes instead of using traditional rows.
The boxes make it easy to plant different herbs and veggies while separating the seedlings by size. Use lattice to cover the boxes, helping keep your crops contained in their boxes. It also provides a little support for taller plants like peppers and fennel.
A retired engineer, Mel Bartholomew, created square-foot gardening in the 1970s. His goal was to simplify gardening, and the practice is used around the world.
Square foot gardening works wonderfully for most crops, including parsley.
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Most square-foot garden beds measure four by four feet, but you can make the box larger or smaller depending on the type of plants and available yard space.
Since the soil is contained in the raised bed, apartment dwellers can often use a smaller two-by-two-square-foot garden on their patios or balconies.
If you have plenty of outdoor space and want to grow a large parsley crop, consider building a 4 x 12 square foot garden bed. It gives you ample space for parsley, along with a few other crops.
Keep the boxes around six to twelve inches deep for parsley. It helps ensure the roots have plenty of room to grow in the soil.
To ensure your parsley crop is receiving adequate moisture and nutrients, look for rich garden soil. You can find bags of soil at garden centers and even in some hardware stores.
Don’t forget about the bed liner. You don’t want the soil spilling out from the bottom.
Coco coir works great as a liner. It’s readily available online and in garden stores.
Choose a brand that incorporates nutrients into its soil. It means less fertilizing and care during the growing season.
You also want to refrain from packing the soil down or walking on the boxes. Parsley produces tender shoots that may not be able to break through tightly compact soil.
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Growing parsley in a square-foot garden bed is relatively simple. It doesn’t require a lot of time and effort to harvest a great edible crop.
Here are a few tips on growing parsley in a raised garden bed.
Parsley grows best in cooler temperatures. It cannot handle hot weather. When you put the plants in the square-foot garden depends on your climate.
For example, gardeners in Arizona can grow parsley typically from October to April. Midwestern gardeners will want to start their seeds in the early spring.
Unlike some other types of herbs, parsley can handle light freezes, so don’t worry if the seedlings get a little frost. They should be fine in the garden.
If an unexpected heavy frost is in the forecast, you can cover the seedlings with a garden blanket. You can also use a sheet but avoid covering the plants with plastic.
Plastic can freeze the plants causing damage.
It’s common for gardeners to start checking for sprouts a few days after planting parsley seeds.
Unfortunately, it can take up to three or four weeks before any greenery begins peeking through the soil.
Parsley seeds are notoriously slow to germinate, so be patient after sowing the seeds.
Plant the seeds about six inches apart in the box. You want to ensure the plants have plenty of space. It also helps to eliminate problems with mold and fungus that can develop when parsley is planted too close together.
Cover the seeds with about a half inch of soil, and don’t forget to water.
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Parsley can grow in partial shade but often does best in full sun. Before picking a box in your square foot garden, take some time to track the sun’s movements throughout the day.
Some of your boxes may receive more sunlight than others. These are the ones you want to use for parsley.
Sunlight helps to keep the plants bushy instead of growing long and leggy.
You can grow other plants in the square-foot garden box with parsley. Peppers, peas, and carrots can thrive in the other boxes. Onions, chives, and dill also do well in raised garden boxes.
Parsley is an easy plant to grow, especially if you are using nutrient-rich soil. The herb does not require additional fertilization throughout its short growing season.
The herb does require supplement watering, especially when rainfall is scarce.
Keep an eye on the top layer of soil. Apply water whenever it is dry to the touch to keep your parsley crop green and growing.
Parsley may be slow to germinate, but it is a relatively fast grower. You can start harvesting when you are only cutting away about 1/3 of the plant.
You want to be careful about how much of the plant you harvest to ensure it continues producing edible leaves.
Continue harvesting throughout the growing season, always removing the older leaves first.
Have a look: Square Foot Gardening Peppers [How to Plant & Maintain]
Most gardeners are environmentally conscious. It’s probably one of the reasons you are using a square foot bed for smaller crops.
Did you know parsley is a biennial? It means the herb may grow back the following year.
If you have space in the square foot garden, let the parsley overwinter. It will produce a flower stalk that attracts Swallowtail butterflies.
The downside is the leaves lose most of their flavor.
Using square-foot gardening for growing parsley has its advantages. The raised beds can be constructed to fit almost any sized space.
The garden box is also a breeze to take care of. Most square-foot garden beds require less water than a traditional garden. Reducing water usage is beneficial for the environment.
Did you know schools are retirement communities are beginning to use square-foot gardens? The boxes can be built to almost any height, making it easier for young students to take care of the parsley and other plants.
Senior citizens often find it more comfortable to garden in a raised square-foot bed. It requires minimal bending and standing motions that are often difficult for elderly citizens to perform.
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Using square-foot gardening for parsley and other herbs comes with a few downsides. Most aren’t deal breakers for gardeners, and others can easily be eliminated with a few changes.
Square foot gardens are limited in growing space to the size of the box. While it works great for growing herbs like parsley, it’s not functional for larger crops.
If you want to start cultivating fruit trees and perennials like rhubarb, the traditional in-ground garden bed is the best option. It also applies to vining vegetables like melons and squash.
Be prepared to spend some money constructing a square-foot garden.
You will need to purchase supplies that include wood, lattice, lining material, and soil. The size of the raised bed will affect the amount you spend.
Budget-conscious gardeners can save money by erecting a smaller square-foot bed. One measuring 4 x 4 still gives you plenty of space to grow parsley, along with a couple of other herbs.
The primary downside to using square-foot gardening is the liner. Some popular options are peat and vermiculite, but these come with problems.
Peat acts as a natural barrier for greenhouse gasses in the ground. Gardeners worried about climate change will want to avoid purchasing the product.
Depleting the earth’s natural peat sources is harmful to the environment.
Vermiculite is another natural material. However, mining vermiculite for sale in garden centers produces a significant amount of carbon.
To ensure your square foot garden bed is eco-friendly, it’s best to use sustainable coco coir. The fiber effectively traps the soil in the boxes, and it also helps maintain moisture levels, so you water less.
Another idea is to line the bottom of the boxes with organic compost. It is safe for the environment and provides additional nutrients to your parsley crop.
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Whether you are an experienced gardener or it’s your first time growing parsley in a raised box bed, questions always pop up. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.
How much parsley can grow in a square foot garden bed?
Parsley is a small plant, but it can get bushy. When you frequently harvest old leaves, it encourages younger growth.
You want to give your parsley plants space to allow for airflow. It can reduce any issues with mold or fungus. For every square foot, you shouldn’t have more than four parsley plants.
If you are worried about running out of fresh parsley, remember you can harvest the leaves throughout the growing season.
Should the square foot garden be placed in sunlight to grow parsley?
Parsley does perform best in full sunlight. You get shorter, bushier plants with plenty of harvestable leaves.
When the herbs are not getting adequate sunlight, they can become leggy with fewer leaves. Some seeds may not germinate in the shade.
There are exceptions to growing parsley in the sun. Gardeners in warmer climates may want to place their square-foot garden beds in partial shade.
The plants will still receive enough sunlight without overheating. Parsley is a cool-weather crop that does not perform well in the heat.
How often do you water parsley in a square foot garden bed?
Gardeners using coco coir as a liner can reduce their water usage. The liner helps to retain moisture.
However, you do not want to allow the soil to dry out. It’s a good idea to water the square foot garden whenever the first layer of soil is dry to the touch.
Water the box deeply. Parsley has a long tap root. You also want to water the plants from the base to avoid getting water on the leaves.
Will parsley return next year in a square foot garden?
Parsley is a biennial that is typically grown as an annual. Biennial plants will often return the following year, including parsley.
In the second year, parsley is rarely used as a food crop. The leaves have a coarse, sometimes bitter flavor.
When parsley is allowed to return, it is primarily used as a food source for Swallowtail butterfly larvae.
Most gardeners do not have the extra space in their square-foot gardens for second-year parsley. Instead, they often transplant it to a container or traditional bee and butterfly garden.
What should you not grow in a square foot garden with parsley?
Parsley does well with several other herbs and even a few vegetables. Radishes, fennel, chives, and dill are a few plants to consider.
You do want to refrain from planting alliums near parsley. It includes shallots, garlic, and onions. These plants can stunt the growth of your parsley crop, reducing your harvest.
Lettuce is another plant to avoid growing near parsley. The herb can cause your lettuce to go to seed before you can harvest the plant.
Additionally, you may like some more gardening articles:
- Square Foot Gardening Squash [Most 7 Benefits]
- Square Foot Gardening Raspberries [All About To Know]
- Square Foot Gardening Zucchini
- Beets Square-Foot Gardening [All about Beets]
- Square-Foot Gardening Radish [How to Grow]
- Square Foot Gardening Onions [Best Tips & Tricks]
- Square Foot Gardening Cucumbers [Helpful Tips]
Parsley is a great option for square-foot gardening. The herb is relatively easy to grow and is packed with vital nutrients.
Remember to ensure your plants are receiving enough sunlight and water. Within a few weeks, you can start harvesting your parsley plants.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.