Grow Your Own

Chervil

Possessing a mild aniseed flavour, chervil is a biennial herb grown for its leaves that are a key ingredient of fines herbes, or used to perk up salads, egg, potato and fish dishes. The flavour is lost if the herb is dried or cooked for too long, so add leaves just before the end of the cooking time. A useful herb for growing in a cool shady position outdoors.

Chervil

Sow

Seeds can be sown directly into well prepared soil anytime between March and August. Sow in shallow, 1cm (½in) trenches and cover. Rows should be spaced 30cm (12in) apart. Seedlings can take up to three weeks to appear. When large enough, thin out to leave seedlings 15cm (6in) apart.

Alternatively fill small pots with seed compost, dampen, sow seeds thinly and cover. Place pots in a propagator until germinated. When plants are large enough to handle transfer seedlings into pots of their own.

Grow

Water plants regularly, especially during hot, dry summers.

Ensure plants are grown in a cool shady spot – plants will run to seed if subjected to high temperatures and dry sunny spots.

Chervil is a prolific self-seeder. Remove a proportion of the flower heads to prevent being over run with seedlings, but allow some to remain to provide you with new plants for growing on.

Chervil can be grown as a winter crop. Protect with cloches or grow in a cold frame.

Common problems

Aphids

Aphids: Look for colonies of greenfly on the soft shoot tips of plants or on leaves. They suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew, encouraging the growth of black sooty moulds.

Remedy: Use your finger and thumb to squash aphid colonies or use biological control in the greenhouse.

More info on Aphids

Slugs and snails

Slugs and snails: These feed on the young seedlings and you'll see the tell tale slime trail on the soil around your crop, as well as on the leaves.

Remedy: There are many ways to control slugs and snails, including beer traps, sawdust or eggshell barriers, copper tape and biocontrols.

More info on Slugs and snails

Bolting

Bolting: Plants flower and set seed prematurely.

Remedy: Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.

More info on Bolting

Harvesting

Young leaves should be ready for harvesting around nine weeks after sowing. Cut and use fresh as required. Alternatively, cut leaves and freeze for use over winter. Leaves are unusable once the plant starts to flower.

Varieties

‘Curled’:

Large clumps of finely cut, delicate dark green leaves.

Anthriscus cerefolium (Common Chervil):

Produces a rosette of ferny foliage in its first year, followed by 60cm (2ft) high stalks holding sprays of tiny white flowers in its second.


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