And the Perennial Herbs Return! Lovage & Chives!

by Jenn @ Frugal Upstate on April 23, 2009

I just love my Lovage & Chives. It made me so happy to look at the little flower bed next to my back stoop last week and see the little plants peeking their heads through the mulch. Barely a week later, the Chives are a nice little mound, and the Lovage has a very good start on life.

Chives and Lovage are both perennials-that is they come back every year without your having to do a darn thing! You plant either, and you’ve pretty much got them for life. The same goes for Mint-but I’ve got that contained in a planter as it can try to take over your entire yard!

Chives are a sort of grassy looking clump that taste of onion. Most folks are familiar with them being used as a garnish on top of their baked potato. I like to take a few chives all summer long and cut them (with scissors) right into whatever dish I’m making. They are especially good in things like salad, tuna salad, Potato salad. .. .hmm, there seems to be a salad theme going on. Most books will tell you that chives can’t be cooked as they “lose” their flavor, but I’ve been known to toss some into soups with decent results.

Eventually Chives will put up some spiky looking purple flowers. These too are edible! If you sort of crumble them up (the flower “ball” is really a bunch of little tiny flowers all together) you can use them as a lovely lavendar accent in a green salad. Another option is to toss them into some vinegar to steep. The result will be a pale lavendar color with a slightly onion flavor.

The chives I have (which were up at the other house for 3 years, then dug up to bring here-the new homeowners didn’t WANT them. Ha!) are just plain chives, but you can get other types such as Garlic Chives. Obviously, those have a garlic flavor.

The care of chives is easy. Plant them somewhere that gets average rain. Don’t mow them over or you’ll have to wait a while for them to grow back. That’s pretty much it. They die back in the fall here and then just start growing again in the spring! How easy.

Where most folks have heard of Chives, not so many have heard of Lovage. It took me a year or so to find someone local who had Lovage seedlings, but I feel it was very worth it.

Lovage is a very old herb-quite popular in colonial times, and it tastes of Celery. For anyone who has very tried to grow Celery (quite the chore I tell ya) Lovage is a welcome releif. You plant it once and let it grow. That’s it!

The stalks are sort of like a drinking straw, so you won’t be using these to fill with peanut butter or cream cheese for the kiddos (although apparently the “straws” are lovely in a bloody mary). Where these shine are in dishes where you want the flavor of Celery. Soups. Salads. Stir-fry. Just step outside, snip off a few leaves and snip them into your dish! Done!

Now lovage is not a particularly ornamental plant-and it gets taller each year for about 3 years until it reaches it’s full growth (about 3 feet tall) so consider carefully where you place it so that it doesn’t overshadow anything that needs direct sun.

I have mine planted right next to the back stoop where it is easy to step out-even in bare feet-and grab what I need.

I love both of these plants for the oomph they add to my cooking and their ease of care. Although I did have to purchase both plants initially (you may be lucky and find someone willing to divide their clump of chives) they were of minimal cost-less than $10 together, and will last me for years and years. I call that frugal!

So, what other perenial foods are out there that I should consider planting? I’d love to hear the experiences of others.

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Sheila April 23, 2009 at 5:50 am

Great tip on the lovage, which I had never heard of. I’ll add that to my herb garden.

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Joanna April 23, 2009 at 5:55 am

I’m giving celery a try this year, as an experiment and, oh my goodness. Slowest. Growing. Seedlings. Ever. From what I’ve heard, it doesn’t get any easier once they go outside, so, like I said, this is an “experiment”- I don’t know if it will be repeated again next year! Perhaps next year’s experiment will be lovage…

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Cat April 23, 2009 at 6:21 am

Sage is also an easy perennial and flowers as well. It’s great to use fresh in cooking. Rosemary makes a nice potted plant but would need to be brought inside in winter in your climate.

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Amanda @ Mrs.W's Kitchen April 23, 2009 at 11:40 am

That lovage sounds great! I’ll have to add that to my wish list.

Can’t wait to read others’ perennial suggestions. I’m pretty much a plant-killer (with more than a little help from my cat) so I need stuff that’s easy!

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Becca April 23, 2009 at 11:45 am

Well depending on your hardiness zone, some of them might need to be taken inside in winter, but there are lots of perennial herbs. Bay (its a bush) is perennial. Marjoram, oregano, rosemary and parsley will do fine if brought in for the winter (parsley is technically an annual but does well in pots inside). Plus there is always lavender and the herbs/flowers used for tea that are perennial or self seeding.

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Becca April 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

Oh, and I just bought some lemon balm seeds (its a perennial) so I have yet to know if its awesome or not.

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Laura April 23, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Thanks for the lovage recommendation! I went to our local garden center and found a seed packet, which I’ll plant tomorrow. The packet says it is easy to grow, and will plant 40 feet of plants (!!!) so I might become a lovage farmer this year :-)… Especially if it transplants itself like dill does.

The Peanut Patch – for all your Lovage needs – I can see it now, LOL!

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lisa g. April 24, 2009 at 6:01 am

Hi! I live a little more north than you (Cazenovia) and I absolutely love growing herbs. My sage, lavender, lemon balm and oregano also survive the winters well with no additional care. Watch out with the lemon balm, it will reseed everywhere and become a pest!! Once it warms up plant some dill and basil…the dill will reseed also even though it’s an annual. Hope this help!! I’m an avid perennial gardener.

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate April 24, 2009 at 8:24 pm

Sheila-glad to teach you about the joys of lovage.

Joanna-Good luck with the celery. I’ve never grown it myself, just heard that it is a pain.

Cat-I’m not sure that sage overwinters this far north. I have some that is left in my planters from last year, we’ll see what it does I guess!

Amanda-Lovage really is a care free herb. You will like it :)

Becca-I think that Upstate NY is just too cold for most of that stuff in the winter. That’s why I want to have a cold frame next year-all that stuff will go in there as well! I brought parsely in, but I only seem able to keep it alive for a month or two before it just ups and dies on me.

Laura-Oh dear, you better go into business! Or maybe you can sell the plant to your family and friends :) 1 plant does fine for my family’s needs.

Lisa-Wow, your sage and oregano survive? I have lemon balm I put in a planter last year, ditto for the regular mints. I use it for tea-are there any other uses??

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Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom April 25, 2009 at 4:46 am

I’ve been meaning to get chives to add to our flower garden (where I keep all my perennial herbs) and I’ll definitely keep my eye out for lovage after this!

My oregano makes it through the winter and I love my mint too! The mint spreads, so if you don’t want that I’ve heard it’s good to plant it in a submerged coffee can to contain it.

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Prerna March 1, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Thanks for sharing these. Had no idea about lovage.. must check it out..Does it need special weather conditions to grow.. It’s quite hot here (in India) most of the time, so am wondering if it’ll thrive or if I need to look for dried options..

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate March 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

You are welcome! I hope you can grow it-I couldn’t find any info about it’s heat tolerance.

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Aran July 27, 2011 at 7:32 pm

You can also regrow store bought Celery… true… I’m doing it right now.
Buy your Celery, chop the bottom off, about 2 inches high, stand it in a dish of water, you’ll see new leaves appearing within about a week. Another week and there will be roots appearing, you can either plant it in your garden, well water it, or plant it in a compost filled pot and stand it on your window sill if it’s winter..

Aran

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Jenn @ Frugal Upstate July 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Aran-Wow, this is so cool! I’ll have to try it.

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schmoo January 12, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I too love perennial herbs. (BTW I read lovage can get up to 8 ft…not 3 as you posted). I am going to try seeds in the Spring. I think it would be great to have Monster Celery in the yard, and the entire plant’s edible!

I am currently growing garlic chives, and they’re lovely and trouble-free. The white flowers in late summer are very ornamental, and mine are OK in a heavy-ish soil. I also am growing sage and thyme as perennial herbs.

I LOVE the thyme and it is in my ornamental garden providing slope stabilization and bordering a path. My sage got “woody” so I think I like the Thyme better. At about $9 for all the seeds, I now have 20+ yummy perennial plants.

Hopefully lovage grows easily from seed! I am excited to have a gigantic, bodacious edible plant.

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schmoo January 12, 2012 at 10:23 pm

Forgot to add I’m in zone7.

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