(See individual varieties for specific product information, but in general the growing information will be the same for all sage.)
Average Days To Maturity: 70-90 days
Distance Between Rows: 2-3 feet
Spacing Between Plants: 12-18 inches apart
When To Plant: Charley recommends planting Sage in mid to late April after the threat of frost, but experienced gardeners can plant earlier and protect the young plants with buckets and milk jugs or start them out in a cold frame or small greenhouse.
Planting Tip: When growing Sage in a pot or container, make sure there is good drainage. This can be achieved by putting a layer of gravel or small rocks in before the dirt.
Sage likes it on the dry side with plenty of sunshine. If you live in a wet location, raised beds may be the way to go to make sure that you have the proper drainage for Sage to survive. Containers work in this situation also. If you live in an area with extremely cold winters, containers may be the way to go so that you can bring them inside.
Preparation and Care: Work some compost into the soil before planting Sage to help keep the soil loose and drained. If the soil is dense or heavy it may cause root rot and kill the plant.
Prune your Sage once they are established in the spring to keep them from going to seed. This will also make the plant bushier and promote new growth. You may have to replace the plant after a few years if it becomes woody.
Make sure there is plenty of air flow around the plants to prevent rot and disease.
Watering: As with any plant, Sage will need to be watered regularly until it is established. After that, water once or twice a week and when conditions are dry. Sage does not like to be wet.
Fertilize: As with many herbs, Sage will be less aromatic if too much fertilizer is applied. It may only require an application 1 to 2 times per year.
Harvesting: It seems that farming is definitely an early morning chore. It is best to harvest most herbs as soon as the dew has dried. If you wait until evening the sun tends to evaporate the oils that produce the flavor and aroma.
If you have a first year plant you may want to wait until the next year to harvest because it may not grow in enough. If you just need a little bit it should be okay to harvest sparingly. Clip young leaves from your Sage plants before the blooms appear. They tend to have the best flavor.
When your plant is producing abundantly, then you are ready to harvest and store your Sage. Clip the sprigs and gather them in bundles. Hang these in a cool, dry place. Remove the leaves and store either whole or crumbled in an airtight container. If fresh is what you like, Sage will keep in the refrigerator for about one week.
Though dried is probably one of the most popular ways that people use Sage, freezing it keeps the flavor much better. Simply wash and pat the leaves dry. Remove them from the stems and place the leaves in a freezer bag. Do not pack them tightly. They will keep in the freezer for about one year.
Common Insect Problems
Sage is not usually bothered by insects but you may notice a few of the following:
- Spider Mites – http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef438.asp
- Whitefly – http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPub.aspx?P=G7275
- Mealybugs – http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/flowers/note19/note19.html
Common Disease Problems