I love Sages velvety leaves and pretty purple flower and the fact it is reasonably hardy and tolerant of almost all conditions as long as it receives a regular dose of full sun. Sage is also a great herb to grow in containers. But is a long one to grow from seed I will admit. Planting sage outdoors works to keep vegetable-munching pests like cabbage moths and carrot flies at bay – a must for any organic gardener. Find out below How I grow Sage in the Organic Herb garden.
Growing Sage in the Organic Herb garden
First of all, I cheat and I buy it as plants growing from seed is possible but a long wait. Sow indoors in March in potting compost, or in April outside. The plants will grow very slowly and you will only be able to begin harvesting in June the next year!
But you can also grow it from cuttings
- Clip a three-inch cutting from the very tip of a stem
- Apply rooting hormone on the exposed portion of the stem
- Plant it in either sterile sand or vermiculite.
- Roots will emerge within six weeks.
- Transfer to a small pot and let the root ball form
- Then transfer to a large pot or directly to your garden.
How to Plant Sage
- Where: Sage will grow almost anywhere, but it provides the tastiest leaf when it receives a lot of sunlight. This evergreen shrub is hardy and will tolerate medium frosts, and because of its love of well-drained garden soil, it performs well in containers. I have a couple of sage plants for cooking on in a pot and one in the herb garden.
- When: So we know Sage can prove challenging when planted by seed, but it is very easy to grow from cuttings or by “layering.” I purchased my first sage plants from the garden centre and supermarket, and now I propagate new plants via one of those two methods. Whatever you do make sure you only plant them as the frosts are coming to an end to give them a chance to get going.
What is layering?
Layering is when you take a long sage stem and carefully secure it along the soil with wire, leaving four inches of the top free. Make sure the pinned portion is directly touching the soil. Roots will start to form along the stem within about a month. Cut away the newly rooted plant from the main plant and transfer elsewhere within the garden or to a large pot.
Sage losses some of its strength after three or four years, so it is necessary to take cuttings or start layering in Spring.
Container Growing Sage
This is so simple – use potting compost and put a good layer of stones at the bottom for drainage. Keep Sage on the dry side as it prefers this. A feed every month with organic liquid plant food and you will have one happy plant. And what about pests? Most pests pose no threat to Sage. Your only problem might be mildew, which you can avoid by not over-watering.
Using your Sage
Sage can be harvested on an as-needed basis, clipping just above the spot where two leaves meet. I love to use it for stuffing. The strong flavour of sage means that a little goes a long way, especially if you’re using dried leaves, so use sparingly. Sage goes well with pork, beef, duck and chicken recipes, and fatty meats in particular. In Italy, it is commonly chopped, mixed with melted butter and served stirred into pasta or gnocchi. Fry by dipping them into a light batter and deep-frying – they can be used to garnish dishes or eaten as a snack like chips.
Varieties of Sage
Common Sage The one most commonly used in cooking and will be the one you can pick up in your supermarket.
Purple sage which has lilac-blue flowers in early to mid-summer and aromatic red-purple young leaves maturing to grey-green. Purple sage looks stunning planted next to golden oregano in a sunny herb garden.
If you are lucky your local garden centre might have pineapple sage which of course smells pineapply or variegated sage with it’s pretty leaves.
Whichever you get Sage is a great addition to the Garden or your patio and will serve you well for a few years to come.
Here is my Quick grow guide to Sage just click here to download your copy
If you enjoyed this post try these other herb growing posts
- The Herb guides – Growing Chives
- Parsley in the herb garden
- How to start Preserving herbs
- Growing Basil successfully
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