This weed-like, drought-tolerant salad green is little known and
underappreciated. In summer the leaves get tough and strong
flavored; if other greens are available, sorrel will probably be
unpicked. That's ok. During fall, winter, and spring, sorrel's
lemony taste and delicate, tender texture balance
cabbage and kale and turn those crude vegetables into very
acceptable salads. Serious salad-eating families might want the
production of 5 to 10 row-feet.
_Sowing date:_ The first year you grow sorrel, sow mid-March to
mid-April. The tiny seed must be placed shallowly, and it sprouts
much more readily when the soil stays moist. Plant a single furrow
centered in a row 4 feet wide.
_Spacing: _As the seedlings grow, thin gradually. When the leaves
are about the size of ordinary spinach, individual plants should be
about 6 inches apart.
_Irrigation:_ Not necessary in summer--you won't eat it anyway. If
production lags in fall, winter, or spring, side-dress the sorrel
patch with a little compost or organic fertilizer.
_Maintenance:_ Sorrel is perennial. If an unusually harsh winter
freeze kills off the leaves it will probably come back from root
crowns in early spring. You'll welcome it after losing the rest of
your winter crops. In spring of the second and succeeding years
sorrel will make seed. Seed making saps the plant's energy, and the
seeds may naturalize into an unwanted weed around the garden. So,
before any seed forms, cut all the leaves and seed stalks close to
the ground; use the trimmings as a convenient mulch along the row.
If you move the garden or want to relocate the patch, do not start
sorrel again from seed. In any season dig up a few plants, divide
the root masses, trim off most of the leaves to reduce transplanting
shock, and transplant 1 foot apart. Occasional unique plants may be
more reluctant to make seed stalks than most others. Since seed
stalks produce few edible leaves and the leaves on them are very
harsh flavored, making seed is an undesirable trait. So I propagate
only seed-shy plants by root cuttings.
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