What’s Lovage? The leaves strongly resemble celery leaves and often used as a replacement for celery. I like it better than celery. Once you have tried it you may enjoy it so much you will not be without it in your garden.
Lovage is a member of the parsley family, no wait – that is carrot family. Well, I am not sure as I have seen it listed as both. Anyway it is a widely-used herb in parts of Europe and southwest Asia. Used both as food and for natural healing. It is said to support kidney health, offer lung support, aide with digestion, support joint health and fight allergy symptoms.
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It grows like crazy and comes back year after year. One plant will put out new shoots from the ground up and one plant is more than enough for most of us to harvest plenty to last thru the winter. However, generally around year 3 it starts to get a little to stemmy and strong tasting for me so we generally pull them up and replant.
Suggestion: Remove flowers or they will produce too many unwanted seedlings. -OR- gather lovage seeds and use them in cooking as a substitute for celery seeds.
I prefer to buy a starter plant, however, you won’t usually find them at any local greenhouse. I have found them on line but there are few listed. Ebay may be your best bet. -OR- You can start seeds indoors a 5 or 6 weeks before the last frost in the spring. They are not always easy to grow and I suggest if you start from seed to put about 4 seeds per pot in hopes of getting one good one. It does best in full sun or partial shade where summers are very hot. It does not mind cool climates.
It can get up to 4 or more feet tall but I have never let it go that long. I Generally cut at about 30 inches (give or take), tie in a hanging bundle to dry. Sometimes I cut shorter peices and put in a drying rack like this picture. And, of course, pick and use fresh thru the growing season.
I dry outside on the patio most of the time and it takes from a few days to a week or more depending on the weather and how much humidity is in the air. If we are having to much rain then I will dry indoors. A lot of times the house is much dryer than outdoors depending on the weather. You can tell when its done as it will crackle into pieces between your fingers. Once that is done it’s time to store it.
Here is a short, helpful video on how to dry herbs..
You can also grow lovage in a pot. You would need a large deep pot. I highly suggest that you DO NOT mix lovage with other herb or vegetable. It really doesn’t make a good companion plant due to the strong smell that it excretes through the roots.
We have always planted our lovage by itself in its very own space or its very own pot. Lovage, like most herbs needs a rest during the winter. Let the stems die back and cut them off in late autumn. To propagate you can split the root-ball in the spring.
It’s best to store your dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool dark place. Canning jars or jam jars work very well and they come in various sizes from 4 oz and up and are cost effective as we can use them over and over and for a great variety of things. You can even buy amber colored canning jars but they seem to be a bit spendy. It’s a good idea to label and date the jars. If you notice the slightest sign of mold — toss them because it will only spread. This should not be a problem if we dry them thoroughly.
Use in about any dish you would use celery and/or parsley in. We love it in our soups, stews and steamed veggie dishes. BTW, it also smells wonderful.
Check out the rest of my “Growing Herbs” series
Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.
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