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With its characteristic aroma and healing effect, sage is one of the classics in local cuisine. The herb with violet flowers has been known since ancient times and actually comes from the Mediterranean region, but is found as a culinary guest in the gardens, greenhouses and living rooms of the Germans. The sage leaves are harvested from the plant, which are used in many ways and, in contrast to other herbs, are not removed arbitrarily.

Harvest Benefits

Like many other Mediterranean herbs, sage is a woody shrub if you don't cut it extensively. Since regular harvesting of the sage leaves means that no pruning is required, the harvest acts as a cut here, so you benefit from the mint family's long growing season, which provides you with fresh leaves for several months, which you should harvest. Regular harvesting brings many benefits, which also impact the health of your sage:

  • it does not lignify through regular harvesting
  • the shoot tips are encouraged to branch out through harvesting
  • possible diseases become recognizable

The big advantage for you: the high amount of sage leaves that you get from the sustained harvest. You can easily run this throughout the growth phase and store, dry or prepare the fresh sage immediately. Since the herb does not become lignified when harvested and can therefore form essential oils more effectively, you get extremely aromatic Salvia leaves, which in terms of aroma beat the finished spice from the supermarket by far.

Tip: Even a single sage plant can provide a rich supply of leaves, which are an enrichment for the medicine cabinet, especially in winter. Sage works wonders against colds and gastrointestinal disorders, which has made it such a popular herb for centuries.

When is the best time

You can harvest sage for almost the entire vegetation period, i.e. from May to the end of August at the latest. Mid-August is recommended here, since the lamiaceae are preparing for winter from this time. Therefore, you should not expose the plant too much to the cold and for this reason you should not harvest until autumn. Sage sprout again and again over these months and does not stop its growth, making it a veritable gold mine of sage leaves. Another moment is important and that is the flowering in June, before which the leaves reach their aromatic peak.

Harvest before flowering

In June, the aroma of the sage leaves begins to intensify as flowering is about to begin. In the days leading up to flowering, the aroma reaches unprecedented heights. You should definitely harvest the saliva during this time. This makes this harvest not only productive, but also more tasty than any other time of the year. After flowering, which lasts about four to six weeks, the leaves are faint in taste and scent as the plant expends all of its energy on producing flowers. There is not much left for essential oils.

Tip: If you intend to pick strongly aromatic sage leaves consistently through August, you should remove the inflorescences as soon as they appear. If the plant has no reason to form flowers, it can put all the energy into the production of the aromatic ingredients.

Harvest after flowering

The post-flowering harvest is of course not lost, and you shouldn't simply skip it over the period of around six weeks. It is true that the leaves of the sage lose their aroma afterwards, but the effective ingredients remain. These include tannins, coloring flavonoids and thujone, all of which have a positive effect on the human body and help with many ailments. If you can do without a little aroma and want a splendor of violet flowers over the summer, you should leave the flowers alone. You can also harvest the flowers.

Notice: When do you ask? End of June is recommended here.

To harvest

Unlike other herbs, from which you can simply pluck a few stalks or leaves, you have to be more careful with sage so that the sage leaves are not torn from the shoots. Since the main shoots are quite sensitive to possible damage, the plant must first be prepared for harvest. This is to ensure that it can absorb enough moisture to be able to sprout again after harvest.

Of course, you can always pluck individual leaves from the sage when harvesting, as long as you don't try to pull off the shoot tips by hand. The fresh leaves are extremely suitable as a tea for in between.

Tip: Mix together six flowers and two leaves of sage and pour the mixture into a pot with about a liter of boiling water. This sage tea has an absolutely beguiling aroma and an intense color that encourages enjoyment.

How is harvested

  1. As soon as the first shoot tips can be seen, you can prepare for the harvest. For these, only use clean scissors that are sharp enough so that nothing is crushed during the harvest. It also allows you to work efficiently and quickly.
  2. Pick a day to harvest when it doesn't rain. The plant tolerates harvest best when the area is dry.
  3. In the afternoon before harvesting, gently shower the sage with water. You don't have to worry about limescale with sage, it tolerates it very well. Be careful with this. This means that you should not select the highest level of the shower so that the water is distributed over the plant like a gentle rain shower. Only wet the plant, don't drown it!
  4. The following day the harvest is carried out in the early morning. But you should wait until the last dew has disappeared. This preparation helps the sage to form shoot tips again immediately after harvesting. Since it would dry out too quickly over midday, the morning hours are used for this to allow fresh sage leaves to be harvested.
  5. Now generously cut off the herbaceous shoot tips. These are kept in a rich green and smell wonderful. Be careful never to cut into the previously woody shoots of the sage. Otherwise you run the risk of the plant dying and not surviving the winter.
  6. Always leave enough shoots so that the plant does not look thinned out. This means that it can form effective winter protection, which is then subjected to the first care cut in spring.
  7. Now you can do as you please with the tips of the sage leaves and shoots.

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