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Lovage (Umbelliferae, Annual locally)

January 19, 2020 Back to Picks >

One of the finest culinary herbs, lovage is significantly underused in our kitchens. Though it is a perennial plant in other regions, it performs as an annual for local gardeners, where it is a cool season star along with parsley and cilantro. It is quite productive until the warm weather returns.

During unusually warm winters such as that of 2018 and early 2019, lovage, along with other members of the umbelliferae bloomed many weeks too early. So 2020 lovage growers will wait and watch to see how long their lovage continues to produce its wonderful new leaves!

Lovage is the equivalent of a better-tasting celery, and it is sometimes considered an ornamental plant in the garden. Were it not for our over-heated summers, this perennial might in fact spend a long and productive life in our gardens. For maximum culinary use, lovage should definitely be planted locally after the October 1 New Year’s Day for Herbs.

Very light semi-shade may prolong lovage’s production if planted now, but it needs plenty of light.

This herb is very much a classic in French recipes, as many uses are found for it in our recipe books as for other celery-type herbs. It makes a fine addition to soups, stews, and salads, and its refined flavor is a natural accompaniment to fish, especially salmon. Line the pan with lovage stems and their lavish leaves and the broiled or roasted salmon filets will take on a rich character and complexity of flavors!

As an additional advantage, lovage is a member of the umbelliferae family, so its tiny flowers attract many beneficial insects to the garden. Planted in good garden or potting soil and fertilized with a slow-release complex fertilizer such as Arbor Gate Blend, with generous light and water, lovage will achieve numerous months of production. I’ve had excellent success growing lovage in a medium-sized clay pot well into the warm months.