Columns / Discourse / April 7, 2011

The Garden Patch: Munch that parsley

Located across the street from the Eco House, the unassuming dark brown plot doesn’t seem like much right now. Come summer, though, the ground will be proud host to a multitude of different herbs and vegetables for campus-wide consumption. This is the Knox Community Garden and if you haven’t been there before, you should take some time on these fresh, sunny days to take a walk and look it over. Better yet, you can be a part of this growing place – get your hands dirty and help Garden Club till, plant and maintain anything from basil to Nebraska Wedding tomatoes to okra.

One plant that will be in abundance this year is parsley. Perhaps you think this humble plant is just adornment for the side of your plate, with an orange slice if you’re lucky. In reality, parsley is one of the most popular herbs in the world, a versatile herb that can be used to flavor almost any dish and is popular in French, Italian and even Moroccan cooking. It is essential in the Middle Eastern dish tabouleh, a simple salad of cooked bulgur, parsley and mint, tomatoes, lemon juice and olive oil.

Something you might not know is that parsley, from the Greek word meaning “rock celery,” comes in two different varieties. There’s curly leaf parsley, which you would associate with the sprig of green on the side of your plate, the leaves tightly compressed. The more useful variety, and the one growing this year at the Knox Community Garden, is Italian flat leaf parsley. These broad, larger leaves are easier for chopping and more flavorful, making this variety much more useful for cooking.

If you want to try cooking with it, feel free to stop by the garden to learn more, especially as the days warm up and the parsley, along with everything else, will be fully taking advantage of the sun, water and soil by springing up, spreading their leaves and offering a delicious harvest. Helping out in the garden has the direct reward of getting free vegetables and herbs, plus the added bonuses of fresh air, sunshine and watching something grow. It’s a great way to find out more about what we eat and how a tiny seed transforms into something edible. All levels of experience are welcome, so we hope to see you there!

Garden Club meets at 4 p.m. every Monday in the Gizmo. For more information, contact Rebecca Ott at

Rachel Talpers

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