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Posts Tagged ‘perennials’

In spring here, one of the first things up is a herb garden MVP, lovage. It’s an older, perennial herb that I’ve found many people haven’t heard about. That surprises me a little because it has a number of different uses and is SUPER easy to grow but it seems to have fallen out of common knowledge. It’s so hard to kill that it actually borders on being a weed, but, on the positive side of that issue, isn’t very invasive. (Well, it is invasive, just very, very slowly. My chunk came out of what had been kept from an abandoned garden plot. In 10-15 years, the lovage had become a solid block in about half of it’s 10’x20′ bricked bed. While it will slowly hulk out, it also can be dug out fairly easily, just make sure you get most of the big carrot-like taproots)lovage1

Fully grown it looks like a giant celery. (Flower heads can top out over 7′ !) They are related but lovage is much more pungent. That is it’s most common use for us. We’ll use a few finely chopped leaves to replace celery in soups, stews and other savoury dishes. It can easily be overpowering when fresh so you have to be careful with amounts but it mellows greatly when cooked. It’s so much easier to just clip some from garden than have to keep buying fresh celery for the few stalks we would use.

We’re not big cocktail drinkers but I’ve heard it can be a useful mixer from friends. (and the hollow stems can become Bloody Mary straws) You can also use the leaves under fish that is being roasted or steamed to infuse the scent. I haven’t done it myself, but this year I’m going to harvest the seeds since they can also be used and they’ll be handy to have over the winter! You can even roast the roots, but again, I haven’t tried it myself.

Overall, it’s something that I recommend adding to any herb bed and a little chunk will grow as big as you let it with no care and in questionable ground. It grows tightly packed enough that you don’t even have to weed it. The biggest drawback (aside from the Triffid tendencies) is the strength of it’s scent. Some people REALLY dislike it and any handling leaves you perfumed!

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A few years ago, after chatting about food gardening with some visitors, I was kindly gifted with another perennial food plant. It was a good chunk of Egyptian or walking onions.

I had never run across them but they are a perennial onion and, while a bit strange looking, they have lots of uses.

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There is a main bulb that very much looks like a shallot and grows in a cluster. Allium standard, hollow, leaves grow out of the bulbs and then, later in the season, harder stem-like ones grow and they develop little bulb clusters on their ends. These get bigger and eventually pull the stems over until they reach the ground. They then root and form new bulb clusters, hence the “walking”.

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So far, they are great. Hardy and extremely low maintenance to grow, they need almost no care. The regular leaves work just like green onions but can be continuously harvested. (and I love that they are completely organic, at least here) I have yet to do more than try a single main bulb because I really want to get a large patch established before cutting into my capital, so to speak. The taste was great on the one I tried and the little tip bulbs also have a nice onion flavour. They also root easily and make it super easy to share plants since simply handing over some gives a fast and clean transplant-ready starter.

Overall, a big winner and easily near the top of easy-to-grow food garden options!

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