Sage: Extremely Popular Seasoning for Poultry and Pork

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a popular, hardy perennial that is a member of the mint family.

It is a very attractive herb with oblong, wooly, greenish-gray leaves that are darker on top and lighter on the bottom.

The plant grows to a height of 2 feet and yields flowers that are blue, purple, or white in color.

This herb is used extensively to flavor a wide variety of foods. It makes a wonderful addition to your kitchen as an indoor herb garden plant to have fresh for cooking whenever needed.

The aromatic leaves of this plant are very strong in flavor and should be used sparingly to avoid an overpowering taste.

When used properly, it is a delightful seasoning for stuffings, pork, lamb, veal, poultry, stews, vegetables, soups, and cheese dishes.

It also complements other cooking herb such as rosemary, thyme, and oregano. It is an indispensable culinary herb for many Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes.

It is known to be a digestive aid for fatty meat dishes such as pork sausages, duck, and gravies. It can be added to baked goods such as biscuits and muffins and the leaves can by used to flavor cooking oil and teas.

You can add this plant to your indoor herb garden collection by starting from seeds. You can buy prepackaged herb kits with everything you need to start by seed. The quickest way to get started is by using transplants from the garden center.

How to Grow Sage Indoors

Starting by seed: Sow seeds shallowly (1/4" deep) in light soil that is well-drained in small pots or starter trays. Keep plants in moist clean soil and place in a warm, well-lit area of the kitchen.

Seeds should germinate in 10-20 days and mature in 75 days. When seedlings form the second pair of leaves, transfer three two five small plants to 4 inch pots to allow the plants to grow at the optimal rate.

Starting by transplants: You can purchase young potted plants at the garden center or you can buy them through a catalog. Then repot your plants into a larger pot that is at least 6" in size - preferably terracotta/clay. You must repot them within a week to prevent plants from becoming root-bound, resulting in stunted growth.

Indoor Care Tips

Lighting: Give the plant good light, a sunny south or west-facing window that gets a minimum of six hours of sun a day, or supplement with 12 hours of artificial light.

Watering: Water by thoroughly drenching plants, let water drain out and empty. Do not leave plants standing in water because this will cause the roots to rot. Water again when the top soil layer dries out.

Temperature: Sage will thrive indoors if you have plenty of sun and warmth (6 to 8 hours) with temperatures in the 65 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and a little cooler at night.

Avoid drafts from heating vents, open windows or doors opening to the outside. If you have plants on windowsills, move them back from glass during the cold winter weather. Keep the humidity levels up because dry air is hard on the plant. Place on humidity tray.

Fertilizer: feed monthly with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer.

Soil: You must use a well-drained soil mixture that contains equal parts soil, sand, and peat moss. Always use a commercial potting mix that is sterilized and not yard dirt.

Containers: Terra-cotta pots are ideal for this herb, but you can use any kind of container you like. Containers should be 8 to 10 inches deep and have several holes in the bottom for drainage.

Grooming: Prune after flowering to keep attractive.

Harvesting: Pick leaves as needed but not more that half the plant. Excess leaves can be dried and stored in an airtight container or chopped and frozen inside ice cubes. Store frozen cubes in freezer-safe bags. Frozen herbs will retain flavor up to one year and you can have it when needed.

Click on this link to find books with detailed information on herbs concerning the origin, care, use, and storage. Plus mouth-watering recipes that bring the herbs from the garden to the table.