Roots 'n' Shoots: July 2013

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Sage: How to Grow - Herb of the Month

Sage stats/requirements at a glance

Ease of Raising:
5/5 – Very Easy, plant and leave
Water:
1/5 – Minimal, weekly (especially in a container)
Sun:
5/5 – Full sun
Training:
1/5 – Minimal (only to shape)
Fertilise/Feeding:
1/5 – Minimal (at least during the growing season)
Time to Harvest:
1/5 – Immediate (purchased a seedling) to Soon (from seed)
Frost Hardiness:
1/4 – Very Hardy (can’t take black frost)


Uses:
Culinary, Medicinal, Pollinator attractor & Predator sheltering
Most Problematic Nemesis:
None, some die-back with over-watering
Container Plant:
Yes (preferably grown in the garden rather than container)

Sage
Salvia officinalis
Krauterbuch 1914
Kurt Stueber Online Library

Quick intro

Sage is a hardy grey-green shrub. It is mostly used in savoury dishes, such as cheese, meat dishes sausages and stuffing, but has been historically used in beverages, such as tea. There are many different species of sage with leaf and flower colours, as well as aromas (pineapple or apple for pork dishes and clary sage as a perfume).

History

Sage has its origins in the northern Mediterranean coast and has been cultivated in many countries. It was an important medicinal plant to the ancient Greeks and Romans, used as an antiseptic to treat wounds (especially snake bites). Hence, its scientific name is derived from Latin “salvere” which means ‘to feel well or heal’. Sage used as a tea is known as an antiseptic, astringent, antispasmodic and systemic antibiotic, but overuse is not recommended due to possible toxic effects.

Science Stuff

Common or Culinary sage, Salvia officinalis, is a member of the aromatic herb family, Lamiaceae. This family includes several well-known species, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, savory, mint and lemon balm.

Sage, thyme and oregano

Several different species of sage exist – over 900 species of annuals, perennials and evergreen shrubs! Pineapple sage, Salvia elegans, has a hint of pineapple that works really well in pork dishes. Clary sage, Salvia sclarea, is used in perfumes and as an essential oil for its pleasant aroma and healing properties. Apple sage, Salvia pomifera, has violet flowers and egg shaped leaves with a pleasant apple note.

Growing & Pruning Sage

Sage is generally care-free. It should be in a full sun position and should not be over watered. Waterlogged sage will eventually die back, blackening of leaf tips and shoots.

Sage does well in pots, but regardless of the planting site, requires pruning. Sage can withstand a hard prune (several centimetres of the established plant), but generally a 1/3 – ½ of the plant can be pruned back in winter to allow new growth.

Other Tips

To always have a steady supply of strongly aromatic leaves, sage plants should be replaced every 4-7 years.

Sage is evergreen and will always give you a fresh supply. It can be dried to impart a milder taste to food. The pruning cut-offs can be used as mulch, compost or give-aways to friends J. With all my herbs I throw the cuttings back into the herb garden to provide mulch and shelter for all the garden critters.

Insects don’t find sage palatable, due to it containing strong aromatic oils, but some damage can result from certain butterfly species’ caterpillars.

Trichomes (tiny hairs) also make sage unpalatable to insects

Variegated sages don’t have such strong flavours and are medicinally less potent, due to their lower aromatic oil content.

Aromatic sages (pineapple, apple etc.) are not frost hardy and need protection during winter.

Harvesting & Storing

Drying sage: Simply save the pruned leaves and dry on a paper/cloth towel indoors for a few days in a dry (airy) place. Once dry they can be stored in glass jars.

Sage scented oil: Similar to rosemary and oregano, sage can be heated in oil (no boiling, only smoking oil, else the oil is destroyed and become heart-unhealthy J Boiling oil also destroys the aromatic oils form the herb). The oil is allowed to cool a bit (so that you retain heat as the sterilising agent, but not too hot that it will break the glass container you want to store it in J). The sage leaves are removed and the oil is poured into a glass bottle (the leaves will become mouldy if left in the oil). This oil is especially useful for meat and savoury dishes!

The flavour of aromatic sages destroyed during the cooking process and only a small amount is added to dishes right at the end of cooking.

Seed Saving & Propagation

If left to flower, the plant will produce lovely purple flowers, a vibrant contrast to its green-grey foliage – the bees and other pollinators will love it too!

The flower clusters are harvested when dry and separated before storing in a glass container. Seeds are viable for 1 year only. Seeds require stratification (cold winter period of 1-6 months) to break seed dormancy – a refrigerator works well at 0.5-5oC (33-41oF). Seeds are sown in a sunny position when the soil has reached 20oC (68oF) and germination takes 7-21 days.

Many of the aromatic herb family members can be propagated by the division of large plants. Any divisions should immediately be replanted at a different locations – that is to say if you want more than one J. You divide the plant by cutting straight down the centre (you can decide on the appropriate tool, such as scissors – a spade works well too!) Stem cuttings can also be rooted in the appropriate rooting hormone during spring and summer.

My Sage

Common Sage: A must have for any respectable herb garden J.

Common or Culinary Sage
Salvia officinalis

Pineapple Sage: Bright red flowers are produced on long spikes, which the bees adore!


Pineapple Sage
Salvia elegans


Do you have an aromatic sage favourite? Or do you simply stick to good ol' common sage?

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Please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! 😆
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Saturday, 13 July 2013

Bonsai Exhibition 2007



I was browsing through some old photos and came across some I took of a Bonsai exhibition at a shopping centre (Cresta) not far from us. This exhibition was before I even started vegetable gardening (in 2008!) or the blog (2011!) J.

Bonsai is a word derived from Japanese, Bon- meaning shallow and -sai meaning plant. The art for was originally from China and is based on studies of tree shapes in nature. This idealised landscape is recreated in miniature utilising specific pruning and wiring techniques to ‘force’ the tree into a certain shape.

I have tried my hand at a Chinese May Bonsai. After having the tree for two years, the cats knocked it off of the table and it fell roots-and-all out of the pot. This happened in winter and I assume that it was just too much for it and it died L. Seeing the old photos has inspired me to try again, this time from a larger shrub rather than a pre-shaped nursery stock.


I only found pictures of my Chinese May when I just got it and after its first pruning. I don't have photos of it at its later stage. I was aiming for an informal upright and had the branches nicely flattened after having them pinned down on a wooden chopping block like Gulliver for three months. As I remember it started to look pretty good... ah well here it is.



Now on to the exhibition - I didn't take photos of all the plaques, so I don't know some of their ages.


Cascade
Num Num Bonsai
Candelabra
Deodar Cedar Bonsai























Clump
Ivy Bonsai
1963
Literati
White Olive (Buddleja saligna)
1867?




















Twin Trunk
Wild Olive
1847?
Raft or scene Bonsai
1982
Semi-cascade
Juniper
1985
Root over rock
Natal Fig Bonsai
1965






















Informal upright
English Privet Bonsai
1935


I remember there being two really old ones, I can't exactly make out the dates, but they seem to be the White Olive (1867, 146 years) and the Wild Olive (1847, 166 years). They are all lovely!




Which one is your favorite? Do you have a bonsai or tried your hand at one?



_________________________________________________________________________________
If you enjoy the content please share with fellow gardening enthusiasts via the various sharing buttons at the end of posts/pages! Else you can vote for posts through the Google reactions bar at the end of articles. To stay up to date I have provided several reader and social networking platforms with which to subscribe: TwitterPinterestRSS Feed Reader or Email/Follow directly using the Blog Followers or Follow Your Way widget on the left hand side toolbar. Thank you for reading and please feel free to ask if questions arise - I appreciate comments and ideas too! J
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