Lovage is such a useful kitchen herb, I’m surprised more gardeners don’t grow it. It has a distinctive flavor- much like that of celery, only stronger. It can grow to a height of 4 feet in rich soil, and it doesn’t seem to mind partial shade. It does like moist soil, and will respond to frequent watering by sending out tender and dark green leaves. A three inch organic mulch will keep the soil evenly moist and deter weeds. Straw, hay, pine needles or cedar chips will do nicely, and as this mulch breaks down it will help to feed the plants.
You can start lovage from seeds or buy 3 inch plants a garden center. Lovage seeds are hard to find. Check with Bakers Creek. They sell lovage seeds online. Or you can ask a friend for some of the rooted shoots that spring up from the mature plants.
Lovage is a perennial and will produce abundantly for about five years. Be prepared to replace the plants as they become woody and strong tasting. Lovage produces a beautiful seed head of pale yellow flowers in late summer. You can allow the seeds to fall, and if left undisturbed will readily self-sow the following year. Use the leaves in soups, stews, stir fry, stuffing, etc. Use them sparingly as the leaves are very pungent.
When drying whole stem lovage swags/bunches, hang loose bundles tied with string or twine high up in a warm, airy room. When dry, discard the tough stems and crumble the leaves into storage containers. Add a leaf or two to potato salad, meatloaf, meatballs, or cream of potato soup.
Lovage – pretty in the herb garden and the bees, butterflies and birds love the flowering seed heads.
~ Blessings on this day of Lammas, sweet ones.
All photos by Azul.