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silly questions about lovage

 
gardener
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I went to a garden center to buy a new fig tree and saw a different herb there among the starts that reminded me of.... something. The lady said "ah, that's quinoa. I mean, it's not really quinoa, but that's what we call it." (disclosure: where I live everyone has different words for the same plants. Hazards of living in a place with lots of immigrants from everywhere, makes things quite confusing).
It was obviously not quinoa, the leaf looked more like a celery than a goosefoot, and it had a celery smell. I bought it because it reminded me of something my mother had in her garden when I was small, and now that I got it home I realize it's lovage - one of the herbs I have no idea how to use!

What's the difference, really, between celery, parsley, and lovage? Is lovage any more heat resistant, for example? I have a really hard time keeping celery and parsley alive past mid-spring, and I would love that kind of flavor to continue through the year.
I also gather pollinators like it, so I`ll probably stick it somewhere and let it take over to attract bees.

 
pollinator
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Lovage is apparently right up there with borage as a pollinator draw and attractant of predatory wasps. I have used it directly as a replacement for celery, but I find that you need to taste it to determine how much stronger, or weaker, it is than celery. I find it stronger in most cases, so I tend to use less, usually in soups, for the same effect.

And yes, the bees will love you for it, and so will the rest of your garden, I think.

We'd love to see where you plant it out, if you feel like posting pics, that is. Let us know how it goes for you, and good luck.

-CK
 
pollinator
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I also use lovage leaves in soups, stews, and any recipe that uses parsley or celery for flavoring.  I prefer it to celery stalks because it is far more forgiving of uneven watering than celery.  It holds up to a Northern New England winter and mine is going strong after 4 years.  
 
Tereza Okava
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ooh, uneven watering is practically my middle name, sounds promising!

Thanks for your ideas, both of you, and I will take pics. I pulled out my Gigantic Cardoon this past week and I think the lovage will be perfect for where it was (good sun exposure, and near one of my bags of sweet potatoes. I doubt the benefits to potatoes will work if they`re not in the ground, but on the off chance that they have some sort of mystical connection......)
 
master steward
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I have mine largely die back every summer after it flowers. It comes back in the late summer once the rains come.

I don't know if it would grow better if I (A) actually watered it, and (B) if it was a bit cooler. It usually only barely touches 90 F around here during the summer, but it also barely rains in the summer.

Like others, I love it in soups. I actually like the flavor more than celery, which I never actually liked. It's like all the good in celery, without the bad, and some extra unquantifiable goodness. The leaves dry quite well, and since I usually put it in soup, I just dried a bunch in the spring so I'll have it to use in the winter when mine dies.
 
pollinator
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I planted some lovage seeds in August (that's when I received them) in a small pot which I transplanted in the ground about a month ago.  Now they were small plants which the frost has now died back shortly after planting.

I am in a northern climate easily go to -45C where I am currently staying.  I do wonder if my baby lovage plants will survive as they were still quite small. It is now wait and see.

My plan is to start some new lovage plants this winter indoors and plant them in the ground in the spring time. If my baby plants that are now in the ground survive the winter, then that would be a bonus.



 
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Michelle Bisson wrote:I planted some lovage seeds in August (that's when I received them) in a small pot which I transplanted in the ground about a month ago.  Now they were small plants which the frost has now died back shortly after planting.

I am in a northern climate easily go to -45C where I am currently staying.  I do wonder if my baby lovage plants will survive as they were still quite small. It is now wait and see.

My plan is to start some new lovage plants this winter indoors and plant them in the ground in the spring time. If my baby plants that are now in the ground survive the winter, then that would be a bonus.





I don't know if your babies will survive the winter, but a well-established plant will.  I have some growing in my garden in north-central Saskatchewan, and we do get -45 winters.  My plant grew up over 5 feet this summer, even after a fall drought last year and super-cold winter that killed half of my supposedly hardy fruit trees.  I planted more lovage this year, as it has proven to be both tasty and hardy for us, and the pollenators do really seem to love it.
 
pollinator
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I didn't know anything about lovage 2 years ago and now it is indispensable in my garden and kitchen. I am in love with it.

I took to starting plants from seed and then interspersing them in beds that line the house along with chives and sage. I like how the lovage gets big and tall, the sage gets medium tall and the chives stay low to the ground. And they all have different textures so it interesting to look at. I also throw parsley in there, for a bit of extra.

I use the leaves to flavor bone broth and soups. I also dehydrate the leaves and stems, picking them when they are about 18 inches to 2 feet tall. When they are dried, I whir them in the cuisinart until the they are powdery and then I infuse my herb salt recipes with the leaves and stems. I also use the dried and powdered leaves and stems to sprinkle over potato salad, tuna salad, regular leafy salad, or anything where celery taste is desired. I make a killer onion, garlic, chive salt with lovage. 25% of the alliums, 25% salt and then sprinkle in enough lovage to make it visually interesting and add a hint of taste.  It replaces the parsley, which I can never seem to grow enough of. I have chopped up a stem very fine, let it sit in warm water for 30 minutes and then added a little to potato salad when I had no celery. A little goes a looooooong way, so use sparingly.

I also chop up a little of the fresh leaves (very fine) and sprinkle them over baked potatoes with chives, sour cream and lot's of pepper. I put stalks in for the bunnies, who sometimes eat them, and sometimes don't.

It is one of the prettiest herbs I have grown. I think I could call it my favorite, not counting dill and cilantro.  I'm now exploring ways of using it medicinally so hopefully that will only add to it's awesome!

Have fun!
 
pollinator
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I am a big lovage lover too!  I have never had any luck growing parsley, but the lovage comes back year after year, 6 feet tall.  Even get a second "crop" of tender leaves in fall after the plant has gone to seed.

The leaves are great in any recipe that would use parsley or cilantro, and seeds are good sub for dill seed.

I also always keep a container of salt layered with lovage leaves, and use that salt for soups etc.
 
master pollinator
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A big difference I see between celery, parsley, and lovage that others have noted but not explicitly stated is that lovage is a perennial.  At least it is considered so in my area, zone 5.  Celery and parsley are not necessarily perennial, though I do have a perennial celery getting established here.

I got a couple lovage plants started this year myself.  I'm hoping that next year they will get well established and grow big!
 
gardener & author
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Wow, thank you to everyone above! Your posts are so informative! Somebody gave me lovage seeds, and this spring I finally planted it and it sprouted, but then I thought it might be too big for the spot, and I've never eaten it so I thought it seemed a bad idea, and pulled it out. Now seeing all your comments, I'l plant it again next year but where it will have enough space. Thanks!

Michelle Bisson wrote:I planted some lovage seeds in August (that's when I received them) in a small pot which I transplanted in the ground about a month ago.  Now they were small plants which the frost has now died back shortly after planting.

I am in a northern climate easily go to -45C where I am currently staying.  I do wonder if my baby lovage plants will survive as they were still quite small. It is now wait and see.


My approach to helping something overwinter when I'm not sure it can, is to pile mulch on it for the winter, as deep as possible, even a pile 2 feet deep. Remember to remove it in the spring so the little plants can push up to the sun.
 
Tereza Okava
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So it took me a bit but every time I think to go outside it's raining cats and dogs again.
Little lovage had a really hot first week but now it's raining steadily enough that I think it'll be okay.
It's the poor little circled thing, near what I believe might be a spaghetti squash start, some scallions, and the newest cilantro bed. The weird swaddled thing is the newest container sweet potato (I cover the pot so that the sun doesn't break it down quite as quickly). there's also a whole load of weeds.... its rainy spring and everything is popping up all over the place.
 
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Hi, I can see this post has been around a while, but I wanted to pop in and say that Lovage is awesome. And it actually thrives in the high dessert (6000 ft, NE Arizona) where the native soil is so heavy in clay that may plants can't stand it. We get hot summers and cold winters, but this perennial plant comes back year after year with a burst of enthusiasm.

My Lovage is a massive, thriving, insect magnet and wonderful soup additive (leaves). My favorite recipe is a spring soup of Sorrel and Lovage leaves. It is delicious. I add potatoes for substance and to cream it up, I use a vegan creamy cheese from soaked cashews blended smooth in a vitamix with probiotic capsules, then set on counter until tart. Divine!

I also dry the leaves and crumble them into my soups all winter long. Yum.
 
Tereza Okava
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So, my lovage did not last the spring, and indeed only lasted a few more weeks after the photo was taken. I realize I probably should have put it in as soon as the hot weather ebbed, so it could get established enough to maybe survive. We still have a good month of chill left, and I do plan to go back to the plant place this week or next. Maybe I`ll get lucky and find another one!
 
Posts: 81
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Lovage was a staple in every Dutch garden growing up. The flavour is so distinct and cannot be found anywhere else. It is found in many flavourings like Maggi, which we used to flavour soups and stews. Aromaat was another and now we have left those behind and use only Herbamare.
In fact it was known as the maggi plant.
Yes I have 3 huge patches in the garden. Cannot live without this plant as it is a winter staple.
I love it!
 
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I have grown lovage for about 20 years in the high and dry of the the front range of CO.  It seems to prefer soil more on the clay side.   I have better luck
starting from seed than trying to transplant.  You need a large root ball to get it to transplant.  My best growers are usually against a privacy fence or house.
Don't know if that is due to the shelter from the wind but that is now where I put them.  They will spread.  They seem to companion well with my rhubarb.

I also keep honey bees and have noted that they attract wasps and native bees, so my honey bees avoid them.  I don't plant them near my hives, or put my
hives close to my lovage patches.

The celery flavor is much stronger than regular celery.  I dry the large leaves and use them like a bay leaf.   My husband will chew the stalk but it is too
much for my palate.  The seed I use like fennel seed, or celery seed.

The dried stalks are hollow and if bundled, make great native bee habitat.

 
 
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I love these lovage comments! We have a very vigorous plant, at least 8 ft tall ('til I trimmed it) which is a great conversation starter, and helps shade the lettuce. The silly thing is, I forget to use it. I'm so grateful to know I can dry the leaves for later use.
 
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I'm feeling inspired! I have a huge lovage plant and have used a few leaves here and there in soups, but dried stalks for native bees? Wow! Drying the leaves for later? Fantastic! Shading the lettuce? Of course!

Speaking of large perennial Umbelliferae, who's got exciting uses for Angelica...
 
steward
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Laura Hans wrote:

The dried stalks are hollow and if bundled, make great native bee habitat.

 


One gardener told me she planted lovage specifically for the hollow stems:  to use them as bloody Mary straws!

Tereza, I hope you can try again! As Nicole mentioned, lovage suffers a bit in the heat and dry, and starting from seed might be better if you can, but once established, lovage survives even Montana winters well! I transplanted some lovage that was growing intermingled with some flower bulbs and had to water it a lot until the transplants could make it on their own (in Montana).
 
pollinator
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I never planted my lovage seeds this year (but there's always next year!).  It's because, though, that I read it needed shade.  I have lots of woods but very little garden space in shade.  I'll try  it in the "food forest" I'm trying to get underway.

It sounds like others plant it in the sun?  Maybe I misread, or read something that was wrong.  I like the idea of a beautiful, pollinator-attracting, delicious herb and vegetable!
 
Jennifer Brownson
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Hi Ann,
My lovage has always been in full sun. It loves it and so do the pollinators. It does appreciate water, but since it is within my veggie garden, it gets what it needs (with no special pampering whatsoever).
 
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