As savory as its name

This easy-to-grow herb complements summer veggies

As savory as its name

Thomas J. Story

Summer savory (Satureja hortensis) is not as well known as its Mediterranean cousins, sage and thyme, but once you taste it with fresh green beans, you'll wonder how you ever did without it.

The aromatic leaves of this fast-growing annual have a mild peppery flavor. The taste is a little sharper than thyme, but not as hot as sage, with a pleasant earthiness all its own. Traditionally used to season snap, shelling, and dried beans, savory is also good with peas, lentils, and other legumes.

We like it with root vegetables, especially potatoes, as well as summer squash. Savory also complements roast chicken; blend it with butter to rub under the skin before roasting.

Many nurseries carry this plant, but it's not too late to sow a crop. Savory seeds germinate very quickly, and you can begin harvesting leaves when plants are 6 inches high. The Romans considered savory to be an aphrodisiac, so maybe it wouldn't hurt to grow a little extra.

WHAT SUMMER SAVORY NEEDS

EXPOSURE: Full sun.

SOIL: Light, well drained, organically rich.

WATER: Regular.

GROWING TIPS: Sow directly in the ground (or large containers), barely covering seeds with soil. Thin the strongest seedlings to 12 inches apart. Pinch mature plants often to discourage flowering. If plants get floppy, mound soil slightly around their bases.

SEED SOURCES: Territorial Seed Company (541/942-9547); Seed Savers Exchange (563/382-5990).

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