Our plant of the week this week is mint and another lovely herb apart of the Lamiaceae (mint) family is sage (Salvia officinalis). Sage has over 2400 different species which are grown all over the world. Its name is derived from the Latin word salvare which means “to save”. It has been a favored herb for centuries as it was believed to have strong healing properties which science today has proven and it is also now known to have high amounts of Omega 3.
Sage’s use was originated in the Balkan and Mediterranean regions, dating back to early Greek and Roman history. In ancient times sage was used as a tea which people drank to give them long life and improve memory, but its first use was to preserve meats. It has astringent properties and is used as an antiseptic as well.
Like all other mints, sage is used for digestion and has been used for culinary purposes for over 2000 years. Sage is an easily grown plant in pots as a porch herb and grows equally as well in herb beds. Sage’s blue and purple flowers along with its strong scent make it wonderful for landscaping as an accent plant.
Sage should be sown indoors thinly and covered by a very thin layer of dirt. When the seedlings are ready to transplant they should be placed at least 3ft apart. Sage can tolerate a wide variety of soils growing best in clay loam, but it will need adequate amounts of nitrogen and good drainage to thrive regardless of the type of soil it is grown in.
The leaves should be harvested before the flowers bloom to ensure maximum flavor and scent. Dry the leaves on screens, or hung by the stems, in a well ventilated room and then stored in tightly sealed jars. You can also store fresh sage in your refrigerator by wrapping the leaves loosely in paper towels and storing them in open containers. Regardless of your use for sage you will find it a delightful addition to your home and garden.
Simple sage tea for memory and vitality: Add 2teaspoons of dried leaves to 1cup of boiling water. Cover tightly and allow steeping till the liquid is cool and no longer steaming (about 30 minutes). Strain and sweeten if desired with licorice or honey. Sage often has a sweetness of its own and does not need sweetened. It is all a matter of taste.
Note: White sage is the only sage found safe for use in smudges and as smoking incense.