By E. VinjeTweet
Native to southern Europe, growing lovage (Levisticum officinale) was very popular during the Middle Ages when it could be found in almost every kitchen garden. The leaves, stems and seeds of the plant all taste like celery. The most popular usage today is in soups and salads. Very hardy and much easier to grow than celery. Perennial with shiny, dark green leaves.
Lovage prefers full sun to light shade and a rich, moist, well-drained soil. Before you plant, consider how much space can be devoted to growing this herb. Mature plants will reach 4-6 feet high, which makes it the perfect backdrop for any garden. Grows well in large containers, too!
Tip: Lovage attracts a large number of beneficial insects.
How to Plant:
Lovage grows well from seed. Start indoors 6-8 weeks before planting out. Sow 1/4 inch deep. Seeds will germinate in 10-20 days. Transplant after the danger of frost has passed and apply organic fertilizers to promote strong, healthy growth.
Lovage may be harvested after the first growing season. As with most culinary herbs, cut in the morning after the dew has dried. Do not wash the leaves or aromatic oils will be lost. Lovage is best used fresh but can be stored frozen in plastic bags or dried. To dry, tie the cuttings in small bunches and hang upside down in a well-ventilated, dark room.
Note: Lovage may be useful for relieving abdominal pains due to gastrointestinal gas. It is also said to reduce flatulence when consumed as a tea.
Insects and Disease:
Insects and disease are not typically a problem for lovage.
Seed Saving Instructions:
Lovage produces huge heads of seed. Allow them to dry on plants; remove and collect. Seed heads may also be bagged to capture ripening seed.