Lovage (Levisticum officinale) is native to Southern Europe and Asia Minor. Supposed to protect evil spirits, his leaves were used as gris-gris in the Middle Ages!
Also called "Smallage", "Lavose" or "Love Parsley", this herbaceous plant, with a spicy taste and even more intense than Celery, is a perennial that can live for many years. It can reach up to 3 meters high and, very pretty, it is a real ornamental value in gardens that deserves to be highlighted. The plant is mostly grown for its leaves and seeds and has a very strong smell of celery. It is really appreciated in cooking and perfumery.
It is also called "the celery of lazy gardeners" because it is really similar to celery but it is much easier to cultivate it. It can be propagate by sowing, or even more easily, by root division in the spring or autumn. It is recommended to do it every 3 years. As for sowing, it can be done either directly into the soil (in spring or beginning of summer) or in a nursery (at the end of summer). With direct seeding, it is recommended to put 4-5 seeds 2-3 cm deep every 40-50 cm with 60 cm spacing within rows. If seeding in a nursery, seedlings must be thinned out at 20 cm apart, then lifted to their definitive location in spring, when they reach about 15 cm high. Seeds will sprout within 2 or 3 weeks.
Location / Exposure
It fells good in almost any conditions, sun or shade, but it is in a semi shady place that it feels the best. It is better to plant this condimentary plant in a very deep soil as well as fresh, well-drained, rich in humus and damp but not soaked. An outdoor culture is recommended since it is a very invasive herb; but it has to be sheltered from the wind. It is possible to plant it in pots but it must be very deep.
This herb with strong aromatic intensity is very easy to grow. It should only be watered in dry weather and if it is not planted to harvest the seeds, flowers must be removed to favor new leaves production.
Leaves harvesting can begin one year after sowing and can be done throughout the growing season until flowering. It is possible to dry them, especially the greenest because they have a very good conservation capacity. Even the stems can be harvested because the flowers petioles are hollows and can be used as straw! As for the seeds it is necessary to wait for their formation and their maturity in autumn to be able to harvest them. And to harvest the roots, it must wait until the plant is three years old. If they are dried and crushed, they can be used as a substitute for pepper.
This culinary and decorative plant is very hardy, so no worries! Even if the foliage dies in autumn, the plant is renewed in summer.