Growing sorrel, Sorrel, commonly called garden sorrel, is one of the widely cultivated perennial plants as they are one of the few herbs that get consumed across the globe. The plant belongs to the Polygonaceae family is known to men by other names like Spinach dock and narrow-leaved dock.
They get commonly found in the grassland habitat cultivated for their herbs or vegetables. Various countries across Europe and Scandinavia grew them for their juicy stems and leaves.
The plant takes about two months to mature and become ready for harvest.
They can reach a height of about 12-18 inches and 18-24 inches in width.
The plant prefers light soil with a good draining soil structure.
They belong to USDA zone 3.
Hardiness (USDA Zone)
The plant requires an area that receives direct sun for about 6 hours every day.
While sowing, a distance of about 2-3 inches can become the ideal space for the plant to grow.
The plant starts to bloom during the mid-June and July period when the temperature rises.
Non-Toxic. The high oxalic content in sorrel may cause a problem in humans when consumed in large dosages.
They possess reddish-green flowers and turn purple on maturing.
The plant takes about two months for it to grow and become ready for harvest.
They are native to the European continent.
The plant requires a proper water management system as they require about one inch of water every week. Pest management should get taken seriously as the likes of aphids are a significant threat to the cultivation. Mulching helps the soil to maintain the soil temperature and retains moisture in it. Adding mulch to the ground also helps the plant not to become a victim of weeds.
The task of tracing sorrel’s origin can draw a lot of argument as the herbaceous plants have their link to Latin and Europe. The sorrel often got referred to as by the term Rumex acetosa, a Latin word.
The plant belongs to the knotweed family, with the likes of rhubarb and buckwheat included. Sorrel plant primarily grows in the grassland habitat of Europe and some parts of Central Asia. The first use of sorrel can get traced back to 1700 years ago as there are several mentions of the herb in Jamaican literature. The likes of sheep sorrel gradually became a household ingredient in North America.
The French were the first who started using sorrel as an ingredient in the cuisines of the modern world. However, people from ancient Egypt, Greek, and Romans saw the plant as a powerful herb in their dishes.
Sorrel plant can get attributed as a highly nutritious green vegetable rich in various vitamin groups and potassium. In addition to its nutrient-rich properties, the plant possesses a high amount of soluble fibers and minimal calories.
The water-soluble Vitamin C present in the leafy vegetable helps the body fight inflammations and significantly improves our immune system. The fiber-rich property of sorrel leaves helps the human body have a proper bowel movement and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
The magnesium present in the herbs helps the body to maintain the heart and bone at an optimal state. The rich antioxidants present in the sorrel herbs help the body tackle various cell damages by fighting multiple free radicals. They also help the body fight chronic heart conditions and type 2 diabetes.
Some researchers conducted on sorrel leaves have to fetch some positive results in decreasing cancer-causing cells in our body. However, the only downside associated with sorrel involves the allergic reaction it has on some people.
Nutrients and Minerals for Sorrel Plant:
They are one of those low-maintenance plants that require very little attention on the cultivator’s end.
When grown in rich fertile soil, the plant doesn’t need any touch of fertilizers—however, a small dose of organic manure. Keeping the soil weed-free should become the main priority of any cultivator. However, cultivators looking for a leafy sorrel plant can add tea compost to the soil along with water during midsummer.
Though the plant possesses a significant drought-resistant aspect, they require heavy watering in the summer, and proper water management should remain in place.
Where to Plant Sorrel:
Before sowing seeds in the soil, proper soil preparation should become the way to go forward.
Experts advise cultivators to thoroughly plow the ground as it helps to remove the soil debris and weeds. The earth should remain fine till a depth of about 20 cm. The plant loves to grow in areas that receive ample sunlight throughout the day; pick the spot accordingly.
The plant prefers soil with a pH in the range of 5.5-6.8 with a good proportion of additional well-aged compost. The aged compost gives the ground a good structure that affects the earth’s drainage capacity.
The firm taproot of the sorrel plant goes deep into the soil to absorb the required nutrients and water. People looking to grow sorrel on a small scale can grow them in containers with a depth of 6-8 inches.
When to Plant Sorrel:
Sorrel seeds have a high resistance capacity to a wide range of environmental conditions. They can survive in conditions like prolonged intense drought or heavy frost.
So, cultivators can start sowing the sorrel seeds in the garden area at least 2-3 weeks before the last frost date of the year. The need to maintain spacing between two sowed seeds plays an important role when measuring the total output of the entire cultivation.
Cultivators should sow the seeds ½ inch deep into the soil with 2-3 inches spacing between them. When the sorrel seedlings start to appear, thinning them to 12-18 inches helps the plant to thrive. The need to divide recognized sorrel every 3-4 years in spring helps the plant avoid reseeding.
How to Plant Sorrel:
The process of planting a sorrel tree involves a series of simple steps. Soaking the sorrel seeds overnight helps the plant by early germination when it goes to the soil.
Sowing the seeds in a ½ inch deep hole in the earth will help the seeds to germinate early. The plant develops some deep and persistent taproots that can grow without much attention from the cultivators. The plant propagates either from the seeds or by dividing the roots.
As the temperature starts soaring with the onset of summer, the leaves begin to bolt, and the plant initiates blooming. During this phase, the plant produces many flowers, and it is a sight to behold. However, with the increased flower production, the leave production declines.
People looking to grow a sorrel tree for leaves can pinch off the flowers from the plant to concentrate all the plant’s resources into leaves production.
Sorrel Plant Care:
Sorrel plant care involves routine watering of the plant as the plant requires water of about one inch every week to thrive. The plant can propagate quite quickly due to its deep and persistent taproot structure.
Weed control plays a significant role when it comes to growing sorrel herbs. In the early days of the plant growth, weed often competes with the plant for the soil nutrients, and unchecked weed growth will lead to soil erosion and making the soil unfit for sorrel in the process. Manual weeding fetches good results, and a strict manual weeding routine should become part of the cultivator’s life.
Once the plant reaches a height of about 60 cm, cultivators can start applying mulch to the soil as it significantly checks the growth of the weed on the soil surface. The plant requires minimal to no added fertilizers, but cultivators can add tea compost to the soil to get better sorrel leaves growth.
Harvesting and Storing Sorrel:
The sorrel plant takes about 45-60 days to become ready for harvest and when the leaves reach a length of about 4 inches. Harvesters should get started when the leaves remain tender as they are a treat to the taste pallet.
To have a steady supply of sorrel leaves, cultivators can harvest some leaves from the plant and let the plant grow further leaves. The life expectancy of sorrel leaves, once picked, cannot extend more than a week in refrigerated conditions. However, sorrel best tastes when fresh as the refrigerated one starts losing flavors once picked.
Types of Sorrel:
- French Sorrel: They are a staple ingredient in French cuisines. They taste pretty similar to spinach but possess a citrusy taste in them. They are much more challenging than spinach and can survive in the toughest of environmental conditions. Due to the perennial nature, the plant can fetch harvest for many years.
- Common Sorrel: They have a much more robust and bitter flavor than French sorrels. They grow in erect clumps of narrow, arrow-shaped leaves. They often get known as garden sorrel.
- Garden Sorrel: The sorrel tree can reach about 3 feet and tastes best when consumed fresh.
Pests and Diseases of Sorrel:
- Slug: They are one of the commonly found pests in sorrel cultivations. Although slugs have more than 30 variants, a minimal variant attacks the sorrel plant. These soft-bodied mollusks feed on the plant nocturnally.
- Aphids: The most significant threat aphids possess is their capability to reproduce in large numbers in a short span. The pest feeds on the sap of the leaves and killing off the part in the process. Under favorable reproductive conditions, they can cause havoc on cultivation.
- French-style Sorrel Soup.
- Jamaican Sorrel Drink.
- Caribbean sorrel drink