Grow salvia, sage is one of the most used aromatic herbs in the kitchen and also one of the most cultivated on balconies and gardens, it is a perennial and evergreen plant, of Mediterranean origin, rustic, and very simple to grow.
It is worth growing it and always having it fresh at hand, it has many uses in recipes as it is excellent both with meat and to season pasta. In its simplicity, the butter and sage dressing is famous, very good on gnocchi and ravioli, which enhances the properties of this fragrant herb.
Below we will learn more about this interesting medicinal plant. Let’s see step by step how to keep the officinal sage (Grow salvia) in the garden or pots, using as always only organic methods and no synthetic chemicals, which may be harmful to health or the environment.
The salvia officinalis plant
Sage (Salvia Officinalis) is a shrubby plant of the Lamiaceae family, therefore a relative of other important aromatic herbs such as mint, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Apart from the smell, it is easily recognizable by looking at the leaves, characterized by their elongated oval shape and above all by the light hair that covers them, also giving a green color tending to gray-white.
It is a perennial species, which reaches about half a meter in height and can then expand to form a beautiful evergreen bush. At the beginning of summer it emits flower spikes in the plume, the small petals are purple or lilac.
Many different sages- grow salvia
There is a multitude of varieties of sage, with different characteristics both aesthetic and in terms of aroma, from white sage to the strange pineapple sage, up to the giant sage with particularly large leaves, excellent for frying.
Then there are sages with particular colors, some have great aesthetic value and do not disfigure among the ornamental plants in the garden, for example, white sage, golden sage, purple sage.
Suitable soil and climate
Climate and exposure. Sage is a plant that loves heat and prefers sunny locations, if we want to grow it on a window sill or a balcony we must take this into account, avoiding the north side of the house. Even in the garden, it is advisable to plant it away from shading elements, let’s choose the place to put it well, since it could occupy the position for years, being a perennial species. Although it prefers mild climates, it is a very resistant plant to frost, even if it does not tolerate it for long periods. This aromatic is not afraid of drought, on the other hand, it can have problems if there are situations of prolonged soil or air humidity.
Ground. This aromatic plant adapts to any type of soil, faithful to its Mediterranean origins, suffering only from water stagnation and too compact and clayey soils. It is particularly good on a calcareous substrate.
A new salvia Officinalis plant can be born in two ways: from sowing or by multiplication by cuttings. Birth from seed is a slow operation, while the cutting method is much simpler, so it is generally preferred.
Alternatively, we can also uproot a plant and divide the head into several parts.
Those who are lazier and more inexperienced can also decide to buy ready-made seedlings, which can be found in any nursery.
The sage seed is very small and has a low germinability, therefore if you decide to sow it is important to abounding, putting more seeds than we need.
The best time to sow sage is the beginning of spring, therefore between March and April, to be able to transplant the definitively formed seedling in May.
The cutting of sage
Sage (salvia) is a very easy shrub to root, so with the cutting, we can get a new plant in a short time. It is necessary to have an existing plant available. What is interesting about this type of propagation is that being asexual, we are guaranteed to keep the same variety as the mother plant, without genetic variations.
The sage cutting is carried out starting from spring, a period in which we cut a branch from the mother plant, choosing a fairly young one, of which we take a length of at least 10 cm. We prepare our sprig by peeling the lower end of the leaves, leaving only the 4 highest leaves.
At this point all that remains is to plant the end in a jar of soil mixed with sand, taking care to wet it often, never letting the earth dry out. The sprig taken in March will probably be a seedling ready to be transplanted as early as May.
The transplant of the seedling
Once we have obtained (or purchased) our sage plant we must plant it in the ground. First of all, it is good to work the soil to make it welcoming to the roots of the aromatic plant: a deep dig and more superficial hoeing are ideal. At this stage we can also take advantage of it to incorporate compost into the soil, enriching the soil with nutrients.
The period in which to transplant is very large: we can plant the plants of Salvia Officinalis throughout the year, except in the winter months when the earth is particularly frozen. In very hot areas it is good to avoid even the hottest moments of the summer season.
For a home consumption of sage, one plant is more than enough, those who use it extensively through decoctions and more can put two. However, if you want to start professional cultivation of herbs and therefore produce on a larger scale, consider keeping a planting distance of about 40 cm between the plants and 70 cm between the rows.
After the transplant, let’s remember to water, continuing to water regularly even in the following days until the plant takes root.
Cultivation of sage
Whether you keep sage in the open field (in the vegetable garden or the garden) or grow it in pots (on a windowsill or balcony), the cultivation technique is practically the same, and fortunately, it is very simple.
Fertilization of sage
For the plant, it is advisable to prepare good bottom cultivation, compost is fine, but later on, it must be borne in mind that adding nutrients too often can affect the aroma of the leaves. However, sage has a good need for nitrogen, if we want it to produce many leaves, so an annual contribution, always through compost or manure in pellets, can be beneficial.
Protection of the plant from the cold
In winter, especially in the northern regions, it is advisable to protect the root system of this medicinal plant with a mulch of straw, to protect the roots from freezing.
Sage and rosemary
Can sage and rosemary be close together? Some say that these two aromatic herbs cannot go well together. Personally, however, in my experience the opposite is true: it is a feasible intercropping and it is convenient to have the two bushes, both perennial and evergreen, in the same flowerbed.
The foresight to have is to keep a correct distance between the plants and keep them adjusted so that one does not overwhelm the other. Rosemary in particular can become intrusive and for this reason, it requires special pruning attention so that it does not invade the space of the sage.
Like many perennials, it is useful to periodically intervene with pruning that regulates the plant.
Sage should be pruned twice a year. Before spring, dry branches and leaves are removed, while at the end of flowering it is pruned more decisively, removing most of the green branches. In this way, the shrub is rejuvenated and kept healthy and productive.
Sage branches are cut with sharp shears.
Adversity and biological defense
Sage is a rustic plant and little prone to problems whatsoever, however, we learn which insects and diseases can damage this medicinal crop.
The most frequent enemy of this aromatic is the aphids that can infest the plant. In this case, we intervene with nettle macerate or with Marseille soap. If you are forced to use more drastic organic insecticides, such as pyrethrum, you must then observe the shortage period and give up the use of sage for a few weeks. We try to avoid it if possible, since, although biological, it is not free from ecological contraindications, such as the killing of bees and other beneficial insects.
Leafhopper can also affect sage plants, it contrasts with the same products we use against aphids.
Powdery mildew of sage
The most frequent disease found on sage plants is sage blight or powdery mildew, which gardeners know well as one of the most annoying problems with pumpkins and courgettes. The pathology is fungal and is recognized by the white and floury patches that can be seen forming on the leaves.
In organic farming, the prevention of the problem is preferred, which simply consists in managing the soil and pruning so that there is no stagnation of water and that there is a circulation of air inside the bush.
A mild remedy for powdery mildew is sodium bicarbonate, which, however, should be used in moderation, since the pH of the soil can vary. If a more energetic measure is needed, sulfur is used.
The collection of leaves
Sage leaves (salvia) can be picked throughout the year, as their aroma is always green and available even during the winter, unlike other plants such as mint and basil which have a much more variable concentration of aromatic oils depending on the season and do not resist cold periods.
So when needed, just remove the leaves that we need, the advice is not to detach the lignified branches instead, because they are slower in reforming.
Store the sage
Using fresh leaves as an aromatic herb is always the best way to enhance the aroma and nutritional properties of this plant, being an evergreen shrub, those who grow salvia (sage) do not have the problem of having to keep it, just go to the garden or on the balcony and unplug leaves when needed. The beauty of having a flower bed or pots with aromatic herbs is precisely that of being able to use them as soon as they are picked.
However, it happens that it is useful to preserve the leaves of Salvia officinalis, there are two methods that can be used:
- Freeze the leaves.b Frozen aromatic herbs take up little space in the freezer and retain their aroma quite well
- Drying sage, b there are various reasons why it is useful to have dried sage: we can give it to those who do not grow this plant, we can keep some to use to make decoctions and herbal teas, we can grind the dry leaves and put them in a mix of spices or flavored salts for roasts.
Culinary use of sage
In the kitchen. In cooking, sage is used as an aromatic, the leaves can be cooked with meat or sautéed with a little butter. They are excellent for flavoring meat and fish and as a condiment for ravioli, gnocchi, and pasta. Also try a more delicious recipe: fried sage leaves in batter.
Properties of officinal sage
Sage has been known since ancient times as a medicinal plant for its alleged medicinal properties, its scientific name is salvia Officinalis, and it is no coincidence that the term “sage” derives from the Latin salvatrix, meaning salubrious.
The qualities attributed to it are anti-inflammatory, digestive, healing, and bactericidal.
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