Spring Herbs: Chervil, Mustard and Parsley

Just as there are spring vegetables there are spring herbs. These are the herbs that are peaking through the ground at the first sign of spring or herbs that can be planted as soon as the ground can be worked. These are the herbs the early colonist used in the spring as a tonic to "get the blood flowing", after a long hard winter without anything green.

Chervil, mustard greens, and parsley have been used for centuries by people in the spring to rejuvenate, cleanse and purify, build up the blood, and detox the body. Today we have a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables year around, but still these herbs are worth taking a look at and growing in the garden.

Chervil, known mainly for its use in French cooking, is a cross between anise and parsley in flavor. Chervil, tarragon, parsley and thyme make up the herb blend, "fines herbes", and is wonderful in fish and egg dishes.

Sow chervil seeds in early spring directly where it is to grow. Chervil likes cool weather and will "bolt" (go to seed) when the weather turns warm. Replant seeds in the fall as the weather turns cool for harvest up until the ground freezes. Often chervil will over winter and reseed itself, and appear in the spring.

Mustard is a member of the crucifer family that includes cabbage and broccoli.Mustard greens are high in vitamins but have a strong bitter taste. Young leaves are boiled either alone or mixed with other spring greens and salt pork or bacon in the South.

Mustard is easily grown from seed, and can become a weed as the seeds are quite hardy and self sow with no effort, so choose your location carefully. Sow in the early spring or in the fall for an early spring harvest. Allow some seeds to self sow to keep the mustard patch growing

Parsley is an herb that gets "little or no respect", in this country. In France parsley is a popular herb imparting its gentle flavor in many a dish, while there would be no tabbouleh salad from the Middle East without the herb. Try adding a little chopped fresh parsley to steamed vegetables, poultry, fish or meats just before serving. Parsley is high in vitamin A, C, several B's, calcium and iron. No wonder it was used as a spring tonic

Parsley is a biennial although treat it as an annual to always have a supply in the garden. Plant the seed when the temperatures approach 50 degrees. Sow the seeds where it is to grow as parsley doesn't transplant well. The old legend tells that parsley goes to see the devil seven times before it will grow, is taken from the fact that parsley is very slow to germinate. Speed up the process by either freezing the seeds before planting or soak the seeds in boiling water first.

Bring these spring herbs into your garden; not only do they add flavor to food, they are good for you.