Sorrel is a delicately flavoured perennial herb with spinach-like leaves. It also looks quite like its close relative ‘Dock’ and shares features such as a deep tap-root and a liking for damp soil. Like ‘Dock’, sorrel is tough as old boots and can withstand hot, cold, damp and dry conditions. Its delicate, citrus flavour is best when it is simply wilted over dishes or used fresh. It is especially delicious with fish and goes well with eggs and pork. Chop it fresh into zesty summer salads. Sorrel makes a delicious soup too. I like to scrunch on a fresh leaf now and again when out in the garden doing a spot of weeding.
Companions strawberry, blueberry.
Quantity 1 or 2 plants should suffice for most gardens.
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Plant or sow in early spring and summer.
Sorrel grows best in full sun in cooler parts of the country and should be protected from midday sun in hotter parts of the country. It grows to around knee height depending upon soil and location. Sorrel can be grown in containers.
To grow tender leaves for kitchen use plant sorrel in a slightly moist soil with organic material such as compost or rotted manure dug through it.
Sorrel is best grown from root cuttings or seedlings.
To take a root cutting: If you have a friend with an established plant then grub away soil from the side and using a spade or an old knife cut away a section of root with leaves attached. Trim leaves back to about a thumb’s length above ground before planting into your garden or container with roots beneath the soil as they were when you took the cutting.
Plant seedlings and cuttings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length apart.
Water young seedlings in dry periods. Mulch to retain moisture and feed every few weeks with a liquid worm juice or compost tea to boost foliage growth.
Break off flower heads as flowering and setting seed can weaken plants. Alternatively you might allow a single plant to flower and set seed to see if you’ll be rewarded with a range of plants in all sorts of unexpected places next spring and summer.
Sorrel is best used fresh and should be harvested just before you intend to use it. Pick leaves regularly to keep foliage young and tender.