Why does my sage die?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by siduri, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. siduri

    siduri

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    I have a little corner of the terrace with lots of herbs, basil, dill, thyme, wild mountain thyme (no purple heather, alas) which i picked in the mountains and it grew, marjoram, chives, garlic chives and origano. 

    They all do very well, but I can;t seem to keep the sage beyond a week or two. 

    The terrace is north, and in the summer has sun from 11 Am to sunset, though there is a trellis that tends to keep the herb section in semi shade part of the day.  I water every night.  (It's very hot here in the summer). 

    I buy the sage plants in the spring, and they always die. 

    I don;t have much luck with parsley either, and have given up on it, since fresh parsley is always available. But i vhave the impression that some animal eats it - we have various bugs and slugs - i'm guessing the slugs.  But the sage just dries up, uneaten by anyone. 

    Any suggestions? 
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2010
  2. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    You might be overwatering, rather than the opposite.

    Sage is native to arid and semi-arid environments, and doesn't like having it's feet wet. You might try watering a lot less: infrequent applications, and not a great volume.

    Just one example: I water most of my herbs every second or third day, giving them a count of 30 from the hose. But the sage only gets watered once a week, and then just to a 20 count. If it's rained at all that week the sage get no additional water.

    You also want to keep it in a relatively sandy soil that drains readily.

    Something else to keep in mind: Potted sage runs out fairly quickly. If you get three good years out of a plant count yourself lucky. So, once you solve your growing problem, you'll want to start a new plant every second or third year.

    Just out of curiousity, what was the problem with parsley?
     
  3. siduri

    siduri

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    Thanks ky, 

    My parsley just loses all its leaves, though the stalks look green and healthy - then the stalks die, or disappear.  Looks like a case of them being eaten by some LARGE insect or larva or slug, because they look like they;re just chopped (or chomped) off. 

    When i've planted from seed, I see tiny parsley sprouting up, like 1/8 of an inch, with the characteristic shape of leaf, and then the next morning there is nothing there at all. 

    Usually to kill bugs that infest my plants i make a foam of dish detergent and spray the leaves with that.  It kills on contact, but doesn;t poison the food (it washes off, and anyway, it doesn't poison our dishes so i figure it;s ok.  But the parsley has no bugs on it.  I see the leaf, and then don;t see it.  Other plants will be covered in aphids, or little webby trails of some larva, or some visible insect, but the parsley no. 

    Thanks for the info on the sage.  That explains why in the past (when i watered more haphazardly) i had a sage plant for a couple of years, and also why it died after a couple of years.  I'd be glad to get through the season.  Most things they say need little water, though, need to be watered daily here, where there is sun from beginning of june to end of september without a break!
     
  4. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I understand how "universal" rules might not apply in your micro-habitat, Siduri. But as for the sage, think of it as a desert plant. It likes it hot and it likes it dry.

    I'm stumped re: the parsley. It, too, can be very sensitive to the environment. For instance, all ours bolted this year, even though it's normally a bienial. But our temperatures averaged 15-20 degrees above normal, and the heat kicked off the "time to make seed" gene.

    But it does sound like some sort of pest is getting yours. Have you tried growing corriander (cilantro)? That would be a good test, as they're subject to the same pests and diseases. But the corriander is even hardier than parsley, and can be grown much earlier in the year.
     
  5. siduri

    siduri

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    I'll try it next time to just keep it dry.  It should thrive! My terrace is fundamentally a desert - think of the sun's anvil from lawrence of arabia, dum dum dum dum dadadum. I don't even stick my head out till after 7 in the summer, even if we have bamboo mats covering it. 

    The parsley, i'm sure, is being eaten.  I suspect slugs, which we have in abundance though i don;t generally see them in the summer (in this season they slide under the door and come in the kitchen - I'd rather have mice! )

    Or some large insect.  I suppose there are things to do to protect against them.  Or just buy parsley.
     
  6. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Maybe instead of water the sage everyday just water when it looks like it needs it? What do you think KYH? My parsley went bonkers and I watered it everyday but it had good drainage.