Tips on how to grow chervil



Stuff NZ Newspapers


One of French cuisine’s fines herbes, chervil’s delicate aniseed flavour is said to improve any dish, raw or cooked. This pretty annual makes an attractive addition to the vegetable or herb garden with its lacy, fern-like leaves and small, white beefriendly flowers. SOW AND GROW When to sow: March to November in warm areas; August to May in cooler areas Position: Full sun Harvest: 16 weeks Good for pots GET STARTED Chervil is a cool season crop. You can sow chervil almost year round in regions with a mild, warm climate, but in the warmest parts of the country avoid starting at the height of summer. Basically, avoid the very coldest times of year in cooler regions and the hottest times in warmer regions! STEP-BY-STEP Having a tap root and being fragile while a seedling, chervil does not transplant well so sow seed direct, cover very lightly and press down gently. Seeds should germinate in 10-14 days. Thin plants to the strongest specimens, spacing them 15-25cm apart. GROWING TIPS In summer, chervil needs a spot that offers dappled shade or is out of the heat of the noon sun. For winter cropping, give it full sun. It does best in light soil that is moist yet free-draining. Incorporate some well-rotted manure or compost before sowing. The plants need to be kept well-watered, from sowing right through to maturity, as lack of water will make them bolt. Reddish leaves are a sign of lack of water or too much sun – or both. Give chervil plants plenty of room in the garden too, as they can grow to up to 60cm high by about 20cm wide. Sowing plants every three to four weeks will ensure continuity of supply, and removing flower stems as they appear will aid leaf production. Harvest leaves regularly by snipping with scissors, rather than ripping or pulling by hand, from the outside of the plants from when they are about 10cm tall. Let some plants flower and go to seed. Chervil does not last long once picked, which is possibly why it is unavailable commercially so harvest it just before needing it if using it in salads. STANDOUT VARIETIES Go for whatever seeds you can source. While different cultivars are available overseas, there appears to be just the one in New Zealand. TROUBLESHOOTING Aphids and slugs are partial to it, so keep on top of populations. And note, that chervil seeds do not keep well, they need to be sown fresh.