Sowing and Growing Sage Seed

Ever since I started going to camps and seeing Sage used as a purificationm insence, I've wanted to grow it rather than buy it in small, rather expensive packs in alternative shops.

Its a Californian plant, so definately not hardy in the UK; I take mine outside into a sunny part of the garden from Spring to Autumn Equinox, March to September ish. They are desert plants, so can tolerate low temperatures, but not damp and cold.

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Seed

The seeds are small, and quite fiddly. I store them in a dry cool place, actually an old amunition box with some silica gell.

They have a low germination rate, about 10% to 15%. so I sow pretty thickly.

I start sowing around late March

Sowing

The soil should be dry, sandy and well drained. I've used 30% sharp sand, 30% Vermiculite and 30% potting compost. Cactus potting soil should be worth a try.

I use seed trays filled with dry potting soil, and thorougly water the seeds with a spray mister when the tray is full. Depth of soil about 1/2 inch. I think this might need to be deeper, so next season I'll increase to about an inch.

Sprinkle the seed lightly on the surface, and spray, then cover with 1/8 to 1/4 inch of soil; I've used vermiculite as its easier to cover evenly.

I put the trays into a heated propogator set to about 22 deg C. I think this doesnt have enough light as my house has think walls and small windows. To try next year; use the greenhouse and put them in there; the heater should keep them warm enough and they'll get loads of light.

Allow the soil to become dry to the touch before watering again, using a spray mister.

Potting On

Transfer the seedlings to larger pots when they have sprouted two to four leaves. I use a teaspoon to gently lift the seedlings from the tray, and press the, into the pot with the same mixture of soil.

You can see how they are stretching to get to the light.

Greenhouse

After a while in the greenhouse as the weather warms up, they join the other seedlings in the greenhouse.

I use water from the butt, hence some moss growth; this may not be a good idea, again, another thing to try and change

Ready to grow

Now in their final 5 inch pots and ready to go outside in early June. Definately need some support, and the top pinching off to encourage growth.

Use pebbles or crockery in the bottom of the pot to give good drainage

DO NOT eat the leaves

 

Outside

Out in the warmest part of the garden. They seem to flower in the second year, sending out long stems, ("sage wands") on which the flowers grow.

When harvesting the leavescut the stem close to the top; if you snip in the lower part of the stem, no more leaves will grow on that stem.

Don't over water

They like lots of sun, but not extreme dry heat. The leaves start to curl a little when they're too dry. In the spring and summer, use a regular liquid fertiliser.

Flowers

The flowers form on little offshoots, white or yellow, and the soft stems give a good warning, litke this, that they need a bit of water

Setting Seed

The flowers shrivel and produce little seed pods in early August. Its hard to judge when they are rip, just before they open and drop the seed, I cut the stems back, and let them dry for a couple of months in a black bin bag

Drying

 

After a couple of months, they'll have dried and will be easy to strip off from the woody stems. The oil and scent is amazing!

Sorting

A lot of husks and debris that all need sorting. I'm told you can winnow by dropping from one bucket to another, letting the breeze take the chaff, but I've never managed that... the seed is very light.

The most practical way I've found is to take a small handful at a time onto a clean white plate, and sort with tweezers. Patience is needed!

Store them in small envelopes in a cool dry place.