About Winter Chervil: Winter chervil is a close relation of parsley, originating in southern Russia. It's delicate flavor, similar to tarragon or fennel, has made it an extremely popular kitchen herb. Chervil has an honored place in every chef's kitchen, particularly in France. This mild herb is the main ingredient of the famous blend of French herbs known as “fines herbes”, as well as being the seasoning of classic béarnaise sauce. Though not often used for medicinal purposes, it was historically used as a mild tonic or stimulant as well as being a supposed cure for hiccups.
Winter Chervil Germination: A cool weather plant, chervil grows well in full sun or partial shade and light, moist soil. Since it does not take well to transplanting, direct sowing is the best option. Direct sow about three weeks before the last spring frost for summer crop, or after the heat of summer for a fall crop. Sow seeds on the surface of the soil in rows 12-18" apart, thinning to 9-12" apart as soon the seedlings appear. Germination should take place within 10 days. For a continuous supply of fresh leaves, plant a new crop every 2 weeks until the heat of summer, when chervil will no longer grow well. Winter chervil adapts well as a container plant, and can survive temperatures below freezing with some protection.
Growing Winter Chervil Seeds: Keep the soil evenly moist, but avoid getting the leaves wet to prevent disease. Cut back the plant often for a longer harvest and to prevent it from going to seed, which often happens in hot weather.
Harvesting Winter Chervil: Harvest leaves as needed, gathering the outer leaves first for best flavor. Though the flowers are edible, their development causes the leaves to grow bitter. Fresh chervil is best added to hot food at the last minute, since it soon loses its flavor with heat. The leaves will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days; drying or freezing are not recommended, since the delicate flavor is soon lost.
Saving Winter Chervil Seeds: Gather the seed heads individually as soon as they begin to dry on the stem. Since they shatter easily, check them often. Spread the heads out to dry in a protected location out of direct sunlight; thresh out the seeds. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place; for best germination, use the seed in the next growing season.
Detailed Winter Chervil Info: Anthriscus cerefolium. Also known as Chervil. Annual. 72 days. Zone 3-8. 2,000 seeds per oz. 12-18" height. 9-12" spacing. Produces green fern-like leaves and umbrella shaped clusters of small white flowers.