Fresh Herbs From The Garden One of the most popular herbs easily grown in the home garden, parsley, which in Greek means “rock celery”, is also one of the most diverse. A fast growing biannual, parsley is used primarily as a garnish or decorative herb. However, the plant has outstanding nutritional and medicinal benefits far beyond its ability to cleanse the palate and freshen breath. Parsley is native to Turkey, Lebanon, and Algeria where it can be found growing wild in roadside ditches and open meadows. Parsley was introduced to England via trade with Rome. Once tasted by the English, the popularity of the fern-like herb spread around the world. There are lots of legends that surround the cultivation of parsley. In ancient times, any woman that could grow parsley successfully was considered a witch and parsley was an ingredient in many a crafted brew. Another myth, still practiced by cultures today, is the tradition that parsley only grows flavorful and lush if planted on Good Friday by a pregnant woman. Greek warriors wore garlands of parsley to celebrate their victories in combat and to make wreaths for the graves of fallen heroes. According to legend, parsley should be gathered from one’s garden. Parsley is never transplanted or given as a plant gift as doing so is said to bring bad luck to the recipient of the greenery. Growing Parsley In The Home Garden Parsley is easily started from seed. However, it is slow to germinate so patience is required. Legend notes that parsley is late in sprouting because it has to go to hell and back seven times before it shows new signs of life. Pungent and full of essential oils, fresh parsley, when crushed and rubbed on the skin is an effective insect repellent. Mosquitos, flies, gnats and fleas flee from the scent. Plant parsley seed in well worked, loose nutrient-rich soil in a sunny spot in the garden where it will receive plenty of moisture. Parsley is often planted as a companion plant with tomatoes. Plant parsley next to tomatoes is said to enhance the flavor and firmness of the tomato. Like most other herbs, parsley benefits from a massive application of aged herbivore manure and garden compost. Work the manure/compost mixture well into the soil around the base of the plant and water well. Parsley thrives with plenty of moisture but does not like “wet feet” so plant where the herb will have good drainage. Parsley grows well in United States Plant Hardiness Zones 3 through 7 and is an excellent container or patio plant. Medicinal Uses Of Parsley For centuries, parsley tea, made from either fresh or dried parsley leaves, has been used for bladder infections and as a diuretic to promote urine output. If the tea is not to your taste, the health benefit of parsley is obtained by chopping fresh parsley and adding it to a salad or including fresh or dried parsley in soups, stews, and sauces.