Seed Count: Approx. 100 seeds
Days to Maturity: 60 Days
Description: Curled Chervil is an aromatic French herb, in the parsley family, that is traditionally used to enhance herb butters, cheese, egg, fish and vegetable dishes, soups, salads, and even used as a cute garnish. The bright green, lacey leaves have a slight anise-like flavor, and are added at the very end of the cooking process to preserve their elegant flavor and beautiful color. Chervil is slow to bolt and thrives in bright light conditions, and well draining soils. I have actually never grown or tasted Chervil before, so I am very excited to be able to include it into my herb garden this year.
How To Grow
Sowing: Chervil is a cool weather herb, and is best direct sown. As soon as early spring hits, sow 1-2 seeds per inch, in full sun, and just barely cover the seeds with soil, as they require a lot of light to germinate. It may also be direct sown in the fall, about 2 months before your first expected frost. Seeds can take 10-14 days to germinate. Thin plants out to about 6 inches apart. Seeds can also be indirectly sown, about 8 weeks before the last frost, in cell flats. Make sure to use a well draining soil mix. Transplant after the last frost, spacing 6 inches apart, with rows at least 12 inches apart.
Growing: Keep the soil evenly moist, and use mulch to help conserve moisture and control weeds. Make sure to keep the leaves dry, or they may get diseased. Cut back your plants often, to keep it productive and from going to seed. Swallowtail caterpillars enjoy this plant, and can be a pest. I just plant more than I actually plan to eat for this purpose, instead of killing them, but that is a personal choice.
Harvesting: You can harvest chervil leaves as needed, taking the large outer leaves first and removing at least 10 inches of stem with the leaves in order to keep the plant healthy and continuously producing. However, the leaves reach its peak flavor right before the plant is about to flower. The whole plant can be harvested at once, as well, cutting the plant just above ground level. Leaves will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days, and can be dried for longevity, but it may lose some of its flavor. To save seeds let your plant flower and develop seed heads. Make sure to keep an eye on them because they tend to shatter easily. I like to wrap heads in mesh bags to prevent this from happening. Pick each seed head, as it becomes dry and mature. Dry the seeds more if needed, and clean the seeds by rubbing the heads through a screen or shaking them. Make sure to use your seeds by the next growing season because they do not stay viable long.