An herb garden is one of the easiest things to grow, and parsley has long been a kitchen favorite!
This little low-maintenance herb will produce an abundance of beautiful green leaves, perfect for adding flavor and fragrance to your culinary delights.
Most beginner and novice gardeners start with herbs – and for a good reason! These incredibly-adorable plants take very little skill to grow, and your efforts will be rewarded with fresh flavors to use most of the year-round.
And even if you are short of space, don’t let that stop you from growing parsley herbs! Herbs will grow happily on a kitchen windowsill or in the tiniest of yards.
But once you have a flourishing parsley plant, how do you know when to harvest it? And what’s the right way to harvest parsley without killing the plant?
Let’s look at everything you need to know about harvesting parsley!
How to Harvest Parsley
Firstly, let’s establish what parsley is! We’ve all been using parsley for years, whether in bunches fresh from the grocery store or as a blend with other dried herbs.
But did you know that there is more than one type of parsley? Understanding these slight nuances is the hidden key to harvesting parsley correctly – especially if you want an ongoing parsley harvest that lasts!
Yes, that’s right! So, if you are growing parsley in your garden, you could have either of the following:
Curly or French Parsley
This type of parsley has tightly curled leaves with a light, fresh flavor. It is the type most often used for garnishing. Curly parsley plants will reach an average of 8 to 14 inches in height.
Flat-Leaf or Italian Parsley
Flat-leaf parsley is pungent in flavor and tastes heavenly in soups, casseroles, and stews. These plants are much taller, reaching heights of up to three feet.
Luckily, the type of parsley plant you have does not affect how you harvest it! (That much.) So don’t panic if you can’t figure out what you’ve brought home from the store, as we can tell you exactly how to harvest parsley without killing the plant.
How to Harvest Parsley Leaves
Parsley is at its best when used as a fresh herb. When picked straight from the garden, the taste and flavor of this herb are incredible, and nothing else quite compares!
When using parsley as a garnish or cooking ingredient? Most chefs we know use the leaves. The stems can be markedly tough and lacking in flavor.
However, if we were to attempt to pick leaves straight from the plant, it would take forever! The easiest way to harvest parsley leaves is to cut off the stem holding the leaves and remove the leafy parts once you return to the kitchen.
This harvesting technique is also the best way to keep your parsley plant happy and healthy. Taking a whole stem will encourage the plant to send branch out and gives you a constantly renewable supply of parsley leaves.
The most important thing to remember is to take the outer, thicker stems – these will have the biggest and thickest leaves. Targeting larger leaves gives space for younger shoots towards the inside of the plant to grow.
How to Harvest, Dry, and Store Parsley
Parsley leaves can be stored and dried, but they will lose flavor with time. The taste of dried parsley is far less intense than its fresh counterpart, so you may need to use more of it.
As fall approaches and your parsley plant starts to lose vigor, you can cut the best stems for the kitchen. Keep these in a cup of water. Your reward will be fresh leaves for several weeks.
But eventually, no matter what you do, you will run out of fresh parsley leaves. But no worries! It is great to have some dried parsley on hand, so why not try drying it yourself?
The best time to do this is in midsummer when your parsley plant is at its most productive. Take as many stems as you can – these leaves will shrink to nothing once dry! Dry them using any of the following methods:
- Air dry by hanging small bunches in a warm, dry place for several weeks
- Use your dehydrator to dry parsley, or set up a DIY sun-drying system
- Dry the parsley in a low-heat oven for several hours
Once dry, gently crush the leaves and remove any stems. You will love the flavor of freshly dried parsley. It’s far superior to anything you could buy from the store!
Top tip – if you want to extend the growing season for your fresh parsley, grow some in a pot and move it into the greenhouse or a warm windowsill for the winter. Potted parsley can continue to produce leaves well into the winter months!
How to Harvest Parsley Seeds
In these uncertain times, seed saving is an essential part of homesteading! We may not be able to rely on a constant supply of seeds in the future, so now is a great time to learn about how to save our precious seeds for next year.
The first thing to remember is that parsley will not flower until the plant is in its second year. So, at the end of the first year? We suggest leaving a few parsley plants in the ground for the following year. You won’t be able to harvest leaves from these plants. But your pollinating insects will appreciate the flowering buffet the parsley plants provide!
When harvesting parsley seeds, you need to pick your moment carefully. The seeds are ready to harvest when the seed heads are brown – they will look completely dead!
If you harvest them too soon? The seeds may be immature and not entirely dried out. Harvesting prematurely means they will not store well. And they may not germinate when sown the following spring.
The problem with leaving seeds too long before harvesting is that you may miss the crop altogether. Dry seeds fall easily from the seed heads and will scatter on the soil around the plant. If you’re lucky, some of these may germinate if the birds don’t get to them first!
The best technique to successfully harvest parsley seeds is to place the seed heads inside a breathable bag. You can use a large paper bag, or one of these seed-saving bags would work perfectly.
Leave the seed heads inside the bag until they are dry – a gentle shake now and again will allow seeds to fall from the plant. Then all you need to do is separate your seeds from any plant debris and store them in a cool, dry place. They’re ready for next year.
Free seeds with minimal effort – you don’t get much better than that!
Best Parsley Seeds for Home Gardens
Parsley is one of the first herbs we recommend homesteaders and gardeners start growing.
If you’re looking for excellent parsley cultivars that produce good yields and are easy to grow – then these are our favorites.
These triple-curled parsley plants are delicious! They are excellent for sandwiches, fresh garden salads, garnishes, roll-ups, and more! But - there is one caveat. The seeds take longer to germinate than other parsley cultivars - and we recommend growing in soil rather than hydroponics.
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$4.85 ($161.67 / Ounce)
Italian flat-leaf parsley is a biennial herb with hardy green leaves. It's also mouth-watering and grows like the wind! Sprinkle some in soups, salads, sandwiches, tacos, and atop your best BBQ meats. It matures in roughly 72 days. It's also a fabled leaf - with a history that dates back thousands of years. Neat!
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$1.99 ($0.08 / Count)
Want dark green parsley that makes excellent garnish? Then Moss Curled parsley might be your favorite. It matures in only 60 to 75 days. It also grows fast and harvests early. Perfect for pasta - or pesto! It grows without fuss either indoors or outdoors - and deers don't like it.
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Parsley Harvesting FAQs
We know that getting the best from your herb garden can be a lot of work!
So we’re happily answering some of the most common parsley harvesting questions.
Find all the answers below!
Parsley is a biennial herb, meaning its life cycle is two years long. In the first year, parsley grows an abundance of fragrant green leaves – this is the part we harvest to eat.
In the second year, the parsley plant completes its life cycle. Firstly by flowering and then producing seeds. During this second year, the leaves become bitter and less palatable.
For this reason, most gardeners grow parsley as an annual herb. They harvest the parsley during the first year, then discard the plant to sow new seeds the following year.
However, if you have the space, leave some parsley to flower. Let it go to seed. That way, you will attract beneficial pollinating insects to your garden. And, if you are lucky, the parsley will self-seed, giving you an ongoing cycle of new plants every year!
Parsley is one of those incredible herbs that keeps on growing! Parsley plants will regrow new leaves, even after a large harvest. But here’s a word of caution. The way you cut the plant will massively affect the speed at which it recovers! A little care when harvesting parsley will keep your plant healthy and happy right through the growing season.
Select the older stems and leaves to harvest. That’s the aim of the parsley harvesting game! Leave the young and tender leaves so that they will grow larger. Provide time for your baby parsley leaves to grow – and in a few weeks, you’ll notice tremendous gains.
There is no hard limit on the number of times you can harvest parsley. The number of harvests depends on your harvest size and how favorable your growing conditions are.
A healthy parsley plant can tolerate a reasonable size of harvest at least once a week. If you are taking a small parsley harvest? You may be able to take leaves nearly every day. Usually – if all goes well, expect up to four parsley harvests.
The trick to harvesting parsley without killing the plant is to avoid picking new and young growth. If you take only the older stems, the new plant growth will quickly take its place, and the plant will continue to push out new shoots for harvesting at a later date.
Parsley grows fast. Give it a chance by leaving the new growth time to mature!
The best way to harvest parsley is by cutting an entire stem off. Cut close to the base and give leaves an easy way clear for a new shoot to take its place.
To keep your parsley plant happy and thriving? Take the largest and outermost stems. These will also have the most abundant leaves. Snip off the stem with a trusty pair of scissors and enjoy the wonderful fragrance!
Most of us use the leaves when cooking with parsley, discarding the stems. So, is there a way to only take the leaves from the parsley plant?
Theoretically, you could pick leaves directly from the stems of the parsley plant, but your plant will not thank you for this strategy.
The reason for this? It is unlikely that the stem will grow new leaves. You will end with a plant with many bare stems. And very few leaves!
Stick to cutting off the outer stems of your parsley plant and remove the leaves when you get to the kitchen. You will enjoy a much happier parsley plant that produces endless fragrant leaves all summer long!
This DIY herb garden kit helps you grow and brew homemade tea! Perfect for unwinding after a hard day of mowing, de-weeding, or cleaning your chicken coop. The DIY tea-growing kit is one of our favorite kits for new gardeners - and it makes an excellent gift for homesteading or gardening friends.
The homemade tea-growing kit gives everything you need to grow and brew delicious homemade tea. You don't have to spend too much at your favorite coffee shop. Not anymore. Instead, you can germinate and grow the most flavorful tea herbs. And you can start the seeds indoors!
The DIY tea-growing kit includes seed packets containing peppermint, chamomile, thyme, tulsi, and echinacea. Germinating and growing the seeds is a ton of fun - and wait until you get to harvest and drink them. The stress in your life melts away - and you can't beat the refreshing properties of locally grown, homemade tea.
You also get a mini windowsill greenhouse and a step-by-step instruction book. You won't encounter stress germinating the seeds - and the instructions take the guesswork out of the tea growing process. You also get peat pellets to help germinate the tea seeds on your windowsill without fuss.
We always say that growing herbs is the best way to start your garden. We also promise there's nothing like harvesting a handful of fresh herb leaves from your garden and brewing a fresh cup of tea. Herbal rewards and relaxation await!
Grow and Go also guarantees that your tea seeds will germinate. Or - they will send you a fresh batch!
Parsley is one of our favorite herbs for new homesteaders! It’s even excellent if you don’t have much room or time to grow.
Harvesting parsley is also easy – and forgiving. It grows and replenishes fast! So if you love to make pesto, soups, and salads with a fresh dash of parsley, you’ll have plenty to go around.
Thanks for reading – and let us know if you have good parsley harvesting tips. Or questions!
Have a great day!