Category Archives: shade tolerant herbs


Lovage In Early Spring

Lovage is a tall (6′ or so), shade tolerant, perennial herb in the parsley family.  The taste of lovage is a strong celery flavor that goes well in soups and stews.   I also like it in chicken and tuna dishes and anywhere else you may want to add a celery-like flavor.  Lovage can also be used fresh – it is great in salads including green salads, tuna salads, and potato salad.  Use less lovage than you would celery.  Lovage is easily frozen for later use.

Though plants may not be easy to find, lovage can be started from seed or found in online catalogs if not locally.  Choose a spot with sun to part shade and plenty of room since the plants will reach 3′ or so in width.  Adding compost to the soil when planting will improve the soil and add nutrients.  Adding a cup or so of compost around the plant in the spring should be all the additional fertilizer needed.  Last year was the first year my current lovage bloomed.  Lady bugs appeared to feed and provide pest control for the rest of my garden.



Herbs You May Already Be Growing

Some herbs growing in your yard you may think of as weeds.   Many of these plants are high in essential fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins and the growing and harvesting are free. Be sure these plants are correctly identified and not growing in a contaminated location (near roads or where there is pesticide or other chemical exposure).  Ask permission before harvesting on private property. You can sometimes purchase seeds if they are not already growing on your property.  I planted Miner’s Lettuce at my current home when I moved in 5 years ago and then found it already growing on the property.

Plants mentioned in this article include purslane, dandelion, stinging nettle, and plantain.  Some other highlights:

  • Many varieties of wild plants offer great nutritional benefits.
  • Purslane might be the richest source of plant-based omega-3 fats, as well as being loaded with vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Even a high-quality, nutritious wild plant or herb can cause an unexpected reaction in some people. Try them one at a time and in SMALL amounts to see how your body is going to react.
  • It’s a good idea to compile a library of books and field guides about wild edibles, as well as familiarizing yourself with toxic look-alikes to avoid. There is even a wild edible iPhone application to help you on your quest.

Read more: The Hidden Food In Your Yard


Cilantro or Coriander

Did you know that cilantro and coriander are from the same plant (Coriandrum sativum)? Cilantro is typically the name given to the leaves while coriander is the name used for the seeds. The flavors, scents, and uses are very different. Cilantro is an annual herb of the parsley family best known as an ingredient in Asian and Mexican foods while coriander is used in sausages, curries, pickling spices, soups, fish, and desserts. Coriander seeds may be used whole or ground with a mortar and pestle.

Sometimes there is confusion between Italian or Flat Leaf Parsley and Cilantro because the appearance is similar. The scent is very different – cilantro has a distinctive scent. Cilantro was an acquired taste for me. I did not understand why the stinky herb was so popular. Then I had some tasty pico de gallo containing cilantro and I was hooked. I have since used it in many other dishes including scrambled eggs, chicken, salads, and an addition to my homemade guacamole.

Left: Italian Parsley      Right: CilantroLeft: Italian Parsely   Right: Cilantro

I get many questions about how to grow cilantro. An important thing to know is that cilantro does not like hot weather but can handle some frost. Plant cilantro in early Spring in well-drained soil. I like to replant about every two weeks to keep a good supply of cilantro coming. When the weather gets warmer I plant in part shade to keep the plants cooler. Towards Fall, cilantro can again be planted in a sunnier spot.

You can begin harvesting leaves with there are at least 6 leaves per plant. Cilantro grows leaves from the inside of the plant so ideally you would harvest leaves growing on the outer edges of the plant. Like many annual herbs, continual harvesting of the leaves reduces the chance of flowering and may extend the harvest of leaves. If you want coriander seeds or you didn’t remove the flowers and the seeds formed, harvest the seeds when they are a light brown color. Be sure they are completely dry before storing for later use.

Cilantro leaves are best used fresh. The leaves lose flavor when dried. If you choose to freeze the leaves use them immediately from the freezer – do not thaw.  Wash and pat dry and freeze  in freezer bags or blend until smooth and freeze in ice cube trays.  Either way it is easy to just remove what you need for a particular recipe.

Writing A Book

Sorry I have not posted for awhile.  I have been finishing an herb book which is now available for Kindle and hopefully soon for Nook.

Check out What About Herbs? and let me know what you think.

Please pass the link for the book for those you know who may be interested. Thanks!


Sorrel is a perennial green that can be used like spinach.  Some say it has a lemony taste and I have heard it referred to as lemon spinach.  Sorrel goes well with fish, eggs, salads, on sandwiches in place of lettuce, in pesto, and most famously: Sorrel Soup

Sorrel is easy to grow and can handle some shade.   Use the smaller leaves fresh or cooked and the larger leaves in cooking.   Keep the flower heads trimmed for a longer harvest.

Sorrel contains oxalic acid so avoid cooking in aluminum (which is a good idea anyway) or cast iron pans.

Sorrel recipes

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