Monday, 25 April 2011

Italian parsley & strawberries: companion plants?

by Francesca @ FuoriBorgo


Italian parsley


Last week I finished clearing out my garden of all the annual and winter crops - a task I do each year around Easter time, following the local tradition connected to the agricultural cycle (here). I had already pulled up the winter cabbages and leeks (here), and the radicchio (which I'm going to write about next time), while leaving the chard and the parsley for last.


Italian parsley


Although parsley is a biannual herb, I sow it each spring because it tends to produce more during its first year. I use a lot of fresh parsley in my cooking, and I like to have an ample supply all year around: parsley, in fact, overwinters quite well in my climate, and because last winter we only had two hard frosts and one snowfall (thank you winter!), I was able to harvest an impressive amount of parsley.


Italian parsley


Even in the harshest winters, parsley always survives - the plants just grow low to the ground, and the leaves are much smaller in size. Not this year, though: my parsley plants were about 50 cms tall, and produced a full colander's worth of parsley leaves.


Italian parsley


Besides the mild winter, I'm thinking that the success of my parsley this year may have something to do with the fact that it got accidentally intercropped with strawberries: parsley and strawberries, does anyone have any feedback on this?



In June last year, in fact, one of my kids came home with one single strawberry plant, that we just randomly planted in the garden. This single plant must have liked its new home, because it propagated impressively, sending many runners, each and every one in the direction of the nearby parsley, with which it spontaneously intercropped itself. Both the strawberries and the parsley did very well, and I'll experiment some more with growing them as companion plans this year.



And my colander full of freshly harvested parsley leaves? If you'd like to know how I use a large quantity of fresh parsley, here are some ideas:


Italian parsley


I made an Almond and parsley spread.


Italian parsley


And a Chopped parsley and garlic mixture for freezing.