Part of the fun of having an herb garden is growing new herbs and enjoying their fresh flavor. This spring, it�s time for you to discover chervil, a subtle-flavored herb favored by food enthusiasts.
Chervil (Cerefolium crispum) is a member of the parsley family. Like parsley, this annual herb grows in a foot-tall clump of leafy stems but the light green leaves are more finely divided than parsley. Some say the leaves make chervil resemble a small fern. Chervil not only looks like a fern, it likes similar growing conditions. Plant chervil in a partly sunny location where the roots will get plenty of moisture. If you sow seeds instead, keep the soil evenly moist and allow two weeks for them to germinate.
Chervil is a tender annual in Texas and is not likely to withstand our 100 degree plus summers. Because of this, I suggest you plant it early in the year, as you would plant cilantro. Once the daytime highs get above the 90�s, chervil � like cilantro � is likely to set seed and die. The wise gardener accepts this fact of life here in the Lone Star State and plants more chervil (and cilantro) after Labor Day. It will enjoy the cooler temperatures of September and October and you will have fresh chervil in time for your Thanksgiving feast. If you give this herb protection from early frosts, it may last until Christmas.
If you�ve never tried chervil in foods, here are a few hints. The easiest way to use chervil is to substitute it for parsley, especially in soups and salads. In southern France and other places around the Mediterranean it is one of the four herbs in �fines herbs,� a mixture of fresh parsley, tarragon, chervil, and chives that is especially good on fish, eggs, and potatoes.