Sorrel is a leafy plant that goes well in mixed salads, soups and other dishes that need a leafy green. The name "sorrel" comes from the French word "surele," which means sour. The plant has a lemony taste, which becomes less tart when cooked. People all over the world have eaten sorrel, and gardeners can grow it at home relatively easily. It tolerates cool temperatures and can grow in areas as cool as U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zone 3.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Sunny gardening space with good soil drainage
- Tiller or garden fork
- Sorrel seeds
Weed the planting area to eliminate other plants that would compete with the sorrel for soil nutrients and space.
Apply a couple inches of compost on top of the planting area to improve soil richness and drainage. Sorrel prefers rich soil with good drainage, and the National Gardening Association recommends compost to improve soil drainage and nutrient levels.
Till the planting area with a tiller or garden fork to mix the compost into the soil and aerate the ground.
Plant sorrel seeds 1/2 inch deep in April or May after the last frost. Hamilton University recommends spacing rows of sorrel 15 to 18 inches apart.
Water the seeds often enough to keep them consistently moist but not overly soggy until they sprout.
Water the plants less frequently after they sprout with about 1 inch of water per week.
Cut off the plant's flowers during summer to encourage the plant to continue producing as many leaves as possible.
Tips and warnings
- Gardeners who want to start sorrel as early as possible can start sorrel seeds indoors in pots three weeks before the last frost of spring. Growers should transplant the seedlings outdoors after the threat of frost passes.
- In warm climates like Florida, gardeners can also plant a second crop in the fall. In colder areas, new plants will not survive cool fall and winter temperatures.
- Pluck individual sorrel leaves as needed for cooking. The plants should keep producing leaves until the first frost of the winter or fall kills the leaves.
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- Hamilton College: Sorrel
- University of Minnesota Extension; Growing Rhubarb and Sorrel in Minnesota Home Gardens; Jill MacKenzie; February 2009
- University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences; Sorrel, Garden --- Rumex acetosa L.; James M. Stephens; March, 2009
- Oregon State University Food Resource: Rumex Acetosa, Sorrel, Sour Dock
- National Gardening Association: Improve Soil Fertility with Compost