Chervil - Defined
Chervil —A garden herb with a combined flavor of parsley and fennel.
(Anthriscus Cerefolium). There are but few varieties: viz., the Common Chervil, Curled Chervil, and Tuberous-rooted Chervil (Chærophyllum bulbosum). The leaves of the two former varieties are used in soups, salads, etc., and will also answer well for garnishing. The tuberous-rooted kind is grown for its edible roots. It is, however, little grown in this country, but in France and Germany, it is cultivated mainly by many. All the species are natives of Europe.
Common Chervil.—This graceful little plant is cultivated to a large extent in Continental gardens and our own.
It is a native of south-eastern Europe, an annual, and requires a little more trouble to have in perfection than perennial herbs. It and all the annual kinds of herbs, etc., should be grown together for convenience; and it should be sown in succession from the end of February until September if a constant supply is wanted. In the market gardens of Paris, this plant is grown to great perfection on the light, very rich, and well-watered soil typical to those places.
It is often sown among other crops and pulled and used before the others require all the ground. It may be sown broadcast and raked in, or in shallow drills about 8 in. apart, and very lightly covered. There is no occasion to plant it in a shady situation in summer, provided the soil be light and deep, and not such as will harden and crack up with a few days' intense sun.
The Curled or Parsley-leaved variety is the prettiest, and in many large families, it is as much sought after for soups and salads for every day in the year as Parsley. To cultivate it well for a daily supply, it requires, as with other things, a little method and forethought. Grow the pretty Fern-leaved Curled variety in a rich, open, well-pulverized soil.
For standing the winter, choose warm sheltered south or south-west aspect or corner about the 12th or 15th of September; sow broadcast thinly or in drills, which should be 8 in. or 9 in. apart, and thin the plants to 5 in. or 6 in. asunder in the rows; make another sowing on the same aspect the first week in October, thus securing a winter and early spring supply.
This time sow thicker and thin less; and, to have a portion unaffected by snow or severe frost and easily obtainable at all times, give it some temporary protection, such as a shallow frame, consisting of four boards nailed together and covered with old lights, canvas, well-oiled thick paper, or thatched neatly with clean straight straw, Evergreen boughs, Fern, or any material of that kind.
Sow again in boxes or pots in January, and place them in gentle heat, and make another sowing in February on a warm border. Sow also in April and during the next three months a row here and there between Raspberries, Gooseberries, or other bush fruit, for the sake of partial shade, or on a north border or cold, damp bottom: thus a plentiful supply of luxuriant, good-colored Chervil may be had every day in the year. Large quantities of his herb may always be seen in the Paris markets, and there is much more of it now in Covent Garden than formerly.
The Tuberous-rooted Chervil.–Is an umbelliferous biennial, the root of which forms a conical-shaped tuber, blackish-grey outside and pale yellow inside. In substance, it is farinaceous and has a somewhat sugary taste. However, the edible tubers have one great fault—that of being too small.
They rarely attain a bulk larger than that of a hen's egg, and usually, they are about the size of Chestnuts. This plant has long been cultivated in Germany.
Like the Skirret, the bulbous Chervil is a vegetable, the value of which is disputed, more especially on account of its small production, which scarcely covers the cost of raising it, but it may be admitted as a fancy vegetable in private gardens where space is no object.
From this point of view, it deserves to be improved; this has been accomplished here and there with some degree of success by different horticulturists.
By planting closely, however, it is possible to obtain tolerably abundant returns upon a small area of ground. The bulbous Chervil is a very hardy plant, which appears to flourish on any soil.
However, a good argillaceous soil seems to suit it best; in calcareous, sandy, or light soils, the leaves are scanty, and the tubers are correspondingly small.
It is sown in August and September in the ground that has been manured the previous year and has not carried a crop of Carrots or other umbelliferous crops during that year.
If the weather is dry when the plants come up, water must be given, for they like plenty of moisture. Towards the end of July, or early in August, the leaves turn yellow, indicating that the tubers may be harvested; however, it is better to remain until September, as they are larger and riper.
They may be eaten at once, but it has been noticed that their quality is much improved if they are kept for a month or six weeks and until some of the moisture contained in them has had time to evaporate.
They can be kept in a cellar until February or March, but they are less palatable than eaten before Christmas. The best roots should be chosen to obtain their seed and planted about 3 ft. apart each way. The top sprouts again in the spring, and the seed is ripe in July.