Sorrel is a lettuce-like plant with arrow-shaped leaves. It tastes fresh, has a lemon flavor so it will make your salad more delicious and can also be processed into thick soup. If you're growing it in your garden, sorrel is a tough plant that doesn't require much care, just water and weed. If grown in certain climates, sorrel can grow as an all-season crop.
Part 1 of 3: Growing Sorrel
Step 1. Choose the variety of sorrel you want
Different varieties of sorrel grow at different heights, and each variety has a unique taste. Many nurseries sell sorrel that is simply labeled “sorrel”, without mentioning the variety, but if you are given several options or if you are buying a seedling instead of an established plant, be aware of the following differences:
- French Sorrel: Grows to a height of 15.5 to 30.5 cm; It has lemon-flavoured leaves that are great for adding to salads.
- Garden Sorrel: Grows very tall, reaching about 90 cm, and is suitable for salads or sauteing.
- Blood Sorrel: Has beautiful reddish leaves, but only the young leaves should be consumed.
- Common Sorrel: A wild variety that can be eaten when the leaves are very young.
Step 2. Choose a patch of land that gets full sun
Sorrel thrives best in full sun, so choose a planting location that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Partially shaded locations are also good, but be sure not to plant the sorrel in a very shady spot with no sun.
- If you grow sorrel in zone 5 or a warmer climate, it will grow into a plant throughout the season once the roots are established. Keep this information in mind when you choose a planting location.
- Do not plant sorrel near other vegetables that will grow very tall, such as chickpeas or tomatoes. Strawberries can be a great companion plant.
Step 3. Prepare the soil to be planted
Do a soil test at the location you selected for planting to make sure the soil conditions are suitable for sorrel. Sorrel requires a soil pH of about 5.5 to 6.8. Once you have found a suitable location, plow the soil to a depth of 15 cm. Mix in organic compost to enrich the soil so that it is very fertile.
- Sorrel needs well-absorbed soil. Dig a hole and fill it with water to see how well the soil absorbs water. If the water stagnates for a while before it absorbs, mix in more organic compost and a little sand for better absorption.
- You can purchase a test kit to measure soil pH at your local nursery. This tool is very useful and a must-have for every vegetable gardener.
- If you want, you can also plant sorrel in an earthen pot filled with fertile soil. Make sure the depth of the pot is at least 15 cm.
Step 4. Plant the seeds in early spring
Sorrel can survive in frozen soil and can be planted several weeks before the last snow melts. Make garden beds and plant the sorrel seeds in 1.5 cm deep holes 5.0 to 7.5 cm apart from each other. If you are planting sorrel in rows, allow 15 to 20 cm between rows. Water the plant bed well.
You can start germinating the seeds indoors if you prefer. Sow the seeds in the seedling substrate. Start planting seeds in early spring so you can transplant the sprouts right after the last snow melts
Step 5. Separate the sprouts
Once the seeds have germinated, separate the sprouts so that the strongest sprouts are about 12.5 to 15 cm apart from each other. This way the sprouts will have the best chance of survival and will prevent them from overcrowding.
Part 2 of 3: Caring for Sorrel
Step 1. Keep the sorrel very moist
Sorrel needs plenty of water during the growing season. Test the soil to see if it needs water by sticking your finger into the soil near the sorrel roots. If it feels dry, please flush the sorrel with water.
- Sprinkle water near the roots instead of splashing it over the leaves. This will prevent the leaves from getting moldy and rotting.
- Water the sorrel in the morning, this will give the sun a chance to dry the plant before sunset. If you water too much during the day, the sorrel can become susceptible to mold at night.
Step 2. Weed the sorrel beds
Weeds tend to thrive in sorrel beds, so you should be diligent about weeding them during the growing season. Remove the weeds by pulling at the base to make sure the roots are uprooted, so the weeds won't grow back. Avoid using herbicides, as it's not only the weeds that will be harmed, but the sorrel as well.
Step 3. Control flea pests
Ticks are one of the pests that can threaten the survival of sorrel. The best way to get rid of them is to pick the aphids off the leaves when you see them. For mature soil, you can spray the fleas using a steady stream of water from a hose.
Step 4. Remove the spikes (bunches with individual stemless flowers) before they reach the final stages of growth
Male sorrel plants produce spikelets that produce many seeds. Examine the grains and cut them off before they reach maturity, when the seed heads are still green. If you leave the seed heads on the plant, the seeds will reach maturity and detach, and the plant will produce new seeds. In a natural setting, this situation is preferable, but it will cause your well-managed garden to become a little too wild.
To get rid of the spikes, you can simply pinch them at the base of the flower with your finger
Step 5. Remove established sorrel in the spring (if you live in a four-season country)
After a year or two, when your sorrel plant is established, you can separate it for more sorrel. Separate the plant near the base, while making clean, smooth cuts through the root system without damaging it too much. Plant the new sorrel plant in a sunny, fertile area and water it well.
Part 3 of 3: Harvesting and Cultivating Sorrel
Step 1. Pick the leaves when the sorrel plant reaches a height of 10 or 12.5 cm
Sorrel leaves will give their best taste when they are young. The taste turns bitter as it ages. Pick young leaves before they get too big.
Step 2. Harvest the sorrel throughout the season as the leaves will continue to grow
Once you pick a leaf, a new leaf will grow in its place. You can harvest sorrel all season long this way. Don't forget to remove the spikes before they reach maturity, as the plant will stop growing new leaves if the spikelets are allowed to grow.
Step 3. Eat the sorrel fresh
Just like other leafy vegetables, sorrel provides its best taste when eaten immediately after picking. Leaves can last about a week in the refrigerator if you don't have time to eat them right away. Sorrel can also be dried or frozen, but this process can cause the leaves to lose much of their flavor. Process the sorrel in the following way:
- Mix in the salad
- Stir-fried with a little butter
- Add to leek and potato soup
- Add to quiche
- Snails and naked slugs love sorrel. Get rid of the nuisance animal or set a trap to trap it.
- If you are growing sorrel in a cold climate, protect the sorrel from winter frosts.