sage is one of the most used aromatic herbs in the kitchen and also one of the most cultivated on balconies and in gardens, it is a perennial and perennial plant, of Mediterranean origin, rustic and very easy to grow.
It is worth growing it and having it always fresh on hand, it has many uses in recipes being excellent with meat and to season pasta. In its simplicity, the seasoning with butter and sage is renowned, very good in gnocchi and ravioli, which enhances the properties of this fragrant herb.
Next, we will learn more about this interesting medicinal plant. Let’s see step by step how to keep sage officinalis in the garden or in a pot using as always only biological methods and without synthetic chemicals that could be harmful to health or the environment.
The plant Salvia officinalis
Suitable soil and climate
Multiply the wise
Transplanting the seedling
Protection of the plant against the cold
sage and rosemary
Adversity and biological defense
sage powdery mildew
The collection of leaves
Culinary use of sage
Properties of sage
The plant Salvia officinalis
The wise man ( Salvia officinalis ) It is a shrubby plant of the lamiaceae family , therefore, compared to other important aromatic herbs such as mint, thyme, oregano and rosemary. Besides the smell, it is easily recognizable by looking at the leaves, characterized by their elongated oval shape and, above all, by the light down that covers them, also giving a green color tending to grayish-white.
It is a perennial species which reaches a height of about half a meter and can then extend up to form a beautiful evergreen shrub . In early summer, it emits flower spikes in the form of a plume, the small petals are purple or lilac.
many different sages
There are many varieties of sage with different aesthetic and aromatic characteristics, from white sage to the very strange pineapple sage, passing through the giant sage with particularly large leaves, excellent for frying.
There is also special colored sage some of which are of great aesthetic value and do not disfigure among the ornamental plants in the garden, for example, white sage, golden sage, purple sage.
Adapted train and climate
weather and exposure. Salvia is a heat-loving plant and prefers sunny places, if we want to grow it on a window sill or on a balcony, we must take this into account, avoiding the north side of the house. Also in the garden it is better to plant it far from shady elements, we choose well the place where to put it, because it could occupy the position for years, being a perennial species. Although it prefers mild climates, it is a very frost-resistant plant. , even if you can’t tolerate it for long periods of time. this aromatic not afraid of drought, it can have problems if there are situations of prolonged humidity in the ground or in the air.
Stage. This aromatic plant adapts to any type of soil , faithful to its Mediterranean origins, suffering only from stagnant water and soils that are too compact and clayey. It is found particularly well on limestone substrate.
A new salvia officinalis plant can be created in two ways: by seed or by propagation by cuttings . Hatching from seed is a slow process, while the cutting method is much simpler and is generally preferred.
Alternatively, we can also uproot a plant and divide the lock into several parts.
The lazy and inexperienced can of course also decide to buy ready-made seedlings, which can be found at any nursery.
The salvia seed is very small and has a low germination so if you decide to sow, it is important that you abound, putting more seeds than necessary.
The appropriate period for planting salvia is early spring then between March and April, so that sowing can be transplanted in May .
sage is a shrub very easy to root , so with the cut we can get a new plant in a short time. Obviously, it is necessary to have an existing plant. The interesting thing about this type of spread is that, being asexual, we have the guarantee of keeping exactly the same variety than the mother plant, without genetic variations.
The sage cut is done of spring period in which a branch is cut from the mother plant, choosing a fairly young one, from which a at least 10 cm long . We prepare our little branch take off the bottom end leaves, leaving only the first 4 leaves.
At this point, all that remains is to plant the end in a pot of soil mixed with sand , taking care to wet often, never letting the soil dry out. The twig taken in March will probably be ready to be transplanted by May.
Once we have obtained (or purchased) our salvia plant, we need to plant it in the ground. First of all, it is good to work the soil in such a way that it is welcoming for the roots of the aromatics: a deep shovel and a shallower hoe They are ideal. At this point we can also take the opportunity to incorporate the compost into the soil, enriching it with nutrients.
The transplanting period is very long : we can plant seedlings of common sage all year round, except during the winter months when the ground is particularly frozen. In very hot regions, it is good to avoid even the hottest periods of the summer season.
For home consumption of sage, one plant is quite enough, those who use it abundantly in decoctions, and others can at most two. However, if you want to embark on a professional cultivation of aromatics and therefore produce on a larger scale, consider keeping a planting height of approximately 40 cm between plants and 70 cm between rows .
After transplanting, do not forget to water continuing to water also regularly the following days, until the plant takes root.
Whether keeping sage in the open field (in the vegetable patch or garden) or cultivating it in a pot (on a window sill or balcony) the cultivation technique is practically the same, and fortunately she is Very simple .
In the plant, it is better to establish a good background culture, the fertilizer is very good, but then you have to take into account that too many nutrients can affect the aroma of the leaves. The sage has however a good need for nitrogen if you want it to produce a lot of leaves, then an annual supply, always with fertilizer or manure pellets, can be beneficial.
Protection of plants against the cold
In winter, especially in northern regions, it is advisable to protect the root system of this officinal plant with a straw mulch to protect the roots from frost.
sage and rosemary
Can sage and rosemary stay together? Some say that these two aromatic herbs cannot mix. Personally, however, in my experience the opposite is true: it is a doable combination and it is convenient to have both shrubs, both perennial and evergreen, in the same flower bed.
The trick is to maintain the correct distance between the plants and to keep them close together so that one does not overwhelm the other. Rosemary in particular can become intrusive and for this reason requires special care when pruning so that it does not encroach on the sage space.
Potare the sage
Like many perennials, it is useful to intervene periodically with pruning to regulate the plant.
The sage should be pruned twice a year . Before spring, dry branches and leaves are removed, while at the end of flowering they are pruned more decisively, removing most of the green branches. This way the bush is removed and remains healthy and productive.
Sage branches are cut with sharp shears.
Biodiversity and biological defense
Salvia is a hardy plant and not very prone to problems of any kind, we learn all the same what insects and diseases may damage this medicinal culture.
The most frequent enemies of this aromatic are aphids which can infest the plant. In this case, we intervene with macerated nettle or Marseille soap. If you are forced to use harsher organic insecticides, such as pyrethrum, then you should respect the withdrawal period and refrain from using salvia for a few weeks. We try to avoid it if possible, because it is biological, but not without ecological contraindications, such as the destruction of bees and other beneficial insects.
The ring it can also affect salvia plants, unlike the same products we use against aphids.
sage powdery mildew
The most common disease found in salvia plants is mal bianco or sage powdery mildew , which is well known to gardeners as one of the most annoying problems with pumpkins and gourds. Disease it is fungal in nature and can be recognized by the white spots and mealy that can be seen forming in the leaves.
In organic farming, the prevention of the problem is preferred which simply consists of soil management and pruning so that there is no stagnation of water and air circulation inside the bush.
A mild powdery mildew remedy is baking soda. , but should be used sparingly as it can alter soil pH. If a more drastic measure is needed, sulfur should be used instead.