Sage is an evergreen perennial shrub with woody stems, grey/green leaves, and blue to purplish flowers. This member of the mint family, Lamiaceae, was originally from the Mediterranean region. However, due to its popularity in cooking, it has spread throughout much of the world.
For centuries, this plant has been used as both an ornamental garden plant and a medicinal herb. The common name Sage also refers to several closely related cultivars of the plant.
When sage is mentioned, most people think of the herb used in sage and onion stuffing. It is extensively used in cooking, however. Also, ‘smudging’ (burning of white sage) is an ancient spiritual ritual.
I know of at least twelve or so varieties of this herb. I prefer the tri-colour variety, but the common garden variety will always be welcome in our kitchen.
Sage is commonly available at garden centres as a ready-grown plant. However, seeds or cuttings can also be grown. It will take a lot longer for your plants to mature if you start from seed or take cuttings.
Seeds should be sown in small pots if you decide to sow them.
Plastic, terracotta, ceramic, metal, or biodegradable containers with drainage holes can be used as pots. An average pot’s diameter varies from 5 to 90 cm (2 to 3 feet), with 7.5-15 cm (3 to 3 inches) being the most common size for growing plants and sowing seeds (although seed trays and pans (short pots) are also used for seeding).
Plant in the spring and cover with a thin layer of perlite. Germinate the seeds in a propagator – it takes three weeks for them to germinate.
During dry spells, water plants regularly but avoid overwatering since sage does not do well in waterlogged conditions.
After flowering, plants can be pruned to maintain its attractive shape and promote new growth.
During the winter, lift pots onto pot feet to allow excess moisture to drain.
If you are planting the sage directly into your herb garden, make sure you dig over the entire area, remove weeds, and add plenty of well-rotted manure or compost. Again, a sheltered spot with plenty of sunlight and protection from strong winds is best.
Since sage is an evergreen plant, its leaves are usually available all year long. However, when the grass is just starting to grow, it’s best to plant in the spring/early summer. Then, both young leaves and whole shoots can be picked.
Protect the leaves of the top growth with a layer of mulch during the winter
A soft, translucent fibre, crop cover or horticultural fleece is used in agriculture. Using fleece protects plants from the weather (heavy fleeces can protect a plant from frost by 2°C), pests, and helps plants grow as it is warmer beneath.
You can dry or freeze them if you don’t want to use them fresh.
The best place to air dry some sage sprigs is a warm, dark, and well-ventilated area. Keep the dried leaves in a container that is airtight once totally dried.
Sage leaves can be frozen by chopping them and adding them to an ice cube tray, then adding water and freezing. It’s easy to use the cubes whenever you need them since you just add them to your cooking whenever you want.
This mildew causes white powdery deposits on the leaf surface and stunted growth.
Make sure the soil is moist, and the plant is grown in a cool location.
These pale green sap-sucking insects damage foliage from late spring to late summer. Many small holes and brown edges become visible on the leaves.
Keep your plants well-maintained by checking them regularly. Capsids can generally damage vegetables, but spraying in bloom may cause harm to pollinators.
Go to Taste for 16 ways to cook using sage.
Here’s a fabulous (and extremely popular) book all about herbs:
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