Thursday, February 5, 2009

Broad-leaved Sage (Salvia officinalis broad-leaved)

The broad-leaved sage herb is a very useful and versatile culinary herb. This Sage is a virtually hardy evergreen in the northern hemisphere and can grow to about 2 feet (60cm). It is origin to Europe and widely cultivated in Mediterranean coast.

How to grow
Sage prefers a sunny location with a dry, alkaline soil. It grows best in a warm climate but will withstand English winters if protected from the frosts.

To grow from seed, plant seeds in a container and place in a sunny window sill. Place the seeds 5mm deep in the soil, and water. Be sure to keep the soil moist, but not too wet, while you wait for the seeds to germinate. You should see seedlings in about 14 to 21 days. After several weeks, thin out the seedlings and select the strongest ones for planting out in the garden or in containers. You should have large enough leaves to pick and use some in cooking a few weeks after that.

Keep the plant well pruned to encourage young shoots with a strong flavour. Pruning also keeps the plants from becoming leggy and twiggy. If you are growing for culinary uses, be sure to pinch out any flowers in order to encourage the tasty leaves.

For culinary use, sage adds a special flavour to biscuits or scones, as well as bread. For medical use, sage tea is used as a gargle for a sore throat and is excellent for treating colds, mouth ulcers and sore gums because of its antiseptic qualities. In addition, sage can be used in cosmetics for fragrance, as an insect repellant and makes an excellent hair rinse for dark hair. Sage was also one of the herbs used for strewing in medieval times.

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