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One of the easiest herbs and most beneficial to grow has got to be Sage.

Salvia officinalis is the botanical name. It originates from the Mediterranean and is actually a member of the mint family. You will find it is used all over the world for its wonderful flavour in cooking but also proven medicinal value as well . 

We’ve been growing it in our veggie patch for a number of years and its a great one to add to pasta dishes but there is so much more you can do with this amazing herb that will have you wanting to get one in your garden as soon as possible. 

Being from the mediterranean, they love a sunny spot with well drained soil. 

Once they are established they will tolerate pretty dry conditions but still appreciate a good drink during Summer. The main thing is you don't want them sitting in waterlogged soil as their roots don't like that. (Think Mediterranean) This makes them highly suitable for growing in large pots too. Imagine brushing past a pot of sage and the fragrance making you want to get cooking! 

You can often buy them as potted plants in nurseries, but they are super easy to grow from cuttings so why not give that a go?

How to grow sage from cuttings

1. Find a neighbour or friend who is growing sage and ask for a cutting, or you may find your local fruit and veg shop has freshly picked herbs that you could use for cuttings. Trim the ends off these and place in water to freshen them up.

2. Make a cutting about 10cm long and remove all the side leaves except the top 2 small ones.

3. Fill a small pot 5-10cm with Propagation mix.

4. Poke a hole 5cm deep with a pencil.

5. Dip your cutting in Rooting Gel and then insert into the hole in the soil and gently press the soil back around it.

6. Give it a water and then place in the Aussie Gardener Propagator in a spot with gentle sun.

7. You should have roots within a few weeks and it can be planted out into your garden.

When you want to harvest some sage leaves, rather than picking individual leaves, trim off a full sprig as this will encourage more leaf growth on the plant. 

Sage likes their soil pH to be a bit alkaline, so the best way to find out what you have is to use our Soil pH/Moisture meter. You just insert it into wet soil to a depth of 12cm and leave it for a minute to settle. If the reading is in the middle or heading towards acidic, you should add some lime to your soil and mix it in, because they like free draining soil. Sage would love growing in the Aussie Gardener Black Felt Planter Bags. They are 55cm across by 40cm high which is an ideal size for this herb plus they look really nice with that silvery grey foliage of the sage. Position your planter bag in a sunny, protected spot from cold winds. 

So many uses for Sage

Let's start with the medicinal because a lot of gardeners don’t know about these.

Sore Throat: Steep 1 tablespoon of fresh leaves in 1 cup of boiling water (or use 2 teaspoons of dried leaves) 

Cover and strain into a new cup and add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and gargle every 1-2 hours.

Make Sage Tea: Steeping a sprig of sage in freshly boiled water. Add a little lemon and honey.

Teeth Whitening: Just rub a leaf over your teeth each day.

Relaxing Bath: Add a hand full of sage leaves to your bath to relieve stress and relieve pre-menstrual symptoms. 

Menopausal Treatment: Sage is antigydrotic meaning it reduces perspiration and also hot flushes. Try adding around 5 grams daily of dried sage made into a tea or if you have fresh leaves, soak 6 leaves chopped in lemon juice overnight and then drinking the strained liquid in the morning. If it's a little too strong, just dilute with water. Continue this for up to 2 weeks then take a break for 2 weeks and then start again. (Source Ruth Trickey in her book, Women, Hormones and The Menstrual Cycle).

Cooking with Sage

Winter vegetable tarts with crispy sage

We’ve all heard of superfoods, well Sage is certainly a super herb! It has large amounts of vitamin B, K and A and is also rich in iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, vitamin E and riobflavin. Sage is also packed with antioxidants and is an effective antiseptic which boosts the immune system.

Sage does have a strong flavour that mellows nicely with frying. One of the most popular dishes is sage with pasta, see below. 

TIP: Store fresh sage in a plastic container with the stems wrapped in damp paper towel in the fridge. Dried sage can be kept in your pantry in the dark where it will keep for several months.  

Gnocchi with burnt sage butter

How to dry Sage

Grab a small bunch, then tie with string and hang upside down in a non humid place. You could also add a paper bag to catch the falling leaves and stop them getting covered in dust. It only takes about 10 days for them to dry. They should crisply crumble in your fingers when fully dry. 

Alternatively pick the leaves and lay them on a fine wire mesh tray so there is good airflow around them. You want to avoid them going mouldy. When they are dry, crumble them with your fingers (smells great) and store in a containers in a dark cupboard so they don't lose their colour. 

Remember that drying herbs intensifies their flavours so you dont need to use as much when cooking. A simple way to substitute is, 1 teaspoon of dried is the equivalent of 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs. 

Do you think it's time to add some Sage to your garden?

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