If you’re one for cooking, you’ve likely used chervil at some point. Also called French parsley or Anthriscus cerefolium, these herbs have a delicate, fresh taste that is often used in European soups, sauces, and fish dishes. Not only is chervil delicious in seafood and egg dishes, but it also makes an excellent addition to microgreen gardens. When grown right, chervil microgreens are a nutritious way to perfectly season your dinner!
Chervil is a dicot that sprouts thin, grasslike cotyledons followed closely by frilled leaves. These bright green, curled leaves look just like parsley. They taste similar as well, but with a hint of mild tarragon, licorice, and anise-like flavor. The lush foliage makes chervil microgreens a lively-looking bunch, complete with an herby aroma.
Compared to other microgreens, micro chervil takes a while to grow. It needs 12-26 days of careful cultivation before being ready for harvest. While it’s still fairly easy to grow, chervil microgreens need a bit more maintenance, including proper watering, good air circulation, and possibly extra soil nutrients. If you’re up for the task, we’ll cover some growing tips on how to grow this culinary delicacy!
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Growing Chervil Microgreens
Though they take a bit longer to grow, chervil microgreens are cultivated just like most other microgreens. That means you can reuse the supplies – and methods – with the rest of your microgreens garden.
- Seeds: any variety of chervil seeds (Anthriscus cerefolium)
- Growing medium: seed starting mix or coconut coir
- Light: a T5 grow light is best for microgreens
- Growing trays: one with drainage holes, one without
- Kitchen shears
- Misting bottle
- Heating mat (optional)
Chervil seeds are long, thin, and brown. They complete germination easily but must be healthy and relatively fresh. Choose a trusted, organic brand for the best results. The chervil seeds don’t have to be marketed as microgreens – there’s no real difference between microgreen and regular chervil seeds.
We’re particularly fond of the seeds from True Leaf Market, and highly recommend their curled chervil seed as an excellent place to start!
To create the proper growing conditions for chervil microgreens, use a fine-grained, well-draining sowing mix. Any seed starting soil is perfect for this, though our favorite commercial blend is Espoma Seed Starter. Coconut coir is also an excellent choice.
We generally don’t worry about soil fertility when growing microgreens because they’re harvested while still relying on the seed nutrients. However, since chervil takes a while to grow and produces true leaves, it may need some nutrition. If your chervil microgreens aren’t growing as anticipated, and you’ve met all other growing conditions, add a small amount of organic matter to the soil when planting your next crop.
Chervil seeds don’t need to be soaked before sowing.
We’re going to grow chervil in classic microgreens style – as a high quantity, dense mat of greenery. Grab your seed tray with drainage holes and fill it to just below the brim with soil. Then, scatter the chervil seeds all across the whole sowing surface. They should be packed in there, but not overlapping.
Gently tamp down the seeds and give them a good misting of water. Instead of covering them with topsoil, place your second growing tray directly on top of the seeds. Place a small weight on top to keep the cover weighed down. To keep the sowing soil at a balmy 75°F, you can place a heating mat below the seed tray. This marks the beginning of the blackout germination period.
During the blackout period, we keep the planted seeds in total darkness so they can complete germination. Chervil germinated quickly compared to its growing time. In just 3-4 days, they’ll sprout and start growing roots. In a few more days, the seedlings will shoot up, collectively lifting the cover tray and its weight. At this time, you can remove the tray and heating mat and move on to tending your chervil microgreens.
Regular chervil likes partial shade, but micro chervil needs bright, direct light. To achieve this, position your grow light a foot or two directly above the chervil sprouts. Turn it on for at least 12 hours a day. The microgreens will stretch straight up towards the light, allowing for even growth among the crop.
You’ll likely need to water the soil a few times before harvesting. We’ll skip the watering can and use the bottom-watering method. For this method, you’ll be reusing the cover tray from earlier. Simply fill your cover tray with an inch of water and place the seed tray directly in it. The soil will take a drink through the drainage holes – watering the roots while keeping the foliage dry.
Bottom-watering is essential to growing healthy microgreens. Because they grow so thickly, we have to make sure there’s good air circulation and low humidity between the aromatic leaves. Otherwise, the microgreens are susceptible to pests and diseases.
We generally only harvest cotyledons for microgreens, but micro chervil is different. Since they’re herbs, the true leaves can be harvested as well (as opposed to the bitter true leaves of most microgreen plants). So, you can wait until those delicious, first curled leaves grow in before harvesting. If you wait too long though, the plants and roots will quickly outgrow their sprouting trays. Try to harvest before the chervil microgreens stretch over 2 inches tall.
Using clean kitchen shears, clip your chervil microgreens stems just above the soil surface. You can harvest them all at once or remove small bunches over a few days. Though new true leaves may regrow from remaining nodes if left on the stems, chervil takes so long to grow that it likely won’t have the energy to produce new leaves. After harvesting the fresh greens, you should clean the tray well before planting another microgreens crop.
After the harvest, fresh chervil microgreens have a shelf life of one week. To keep these herbs as fresh as possible, don’t wash them until you’re about to use them. Use the parsley-like flavor of these aromatic leaves to season egg dishes, soups, salads, and sauces. Their mild taste is also excellent with fish, potatoes, or any dishes you want to experiment with!
Store your unused, fresh greens in the refrigerator. The chervil microgreens will wilt if they get too moist, so wrap them in paper towels and place them in a sealed food storage container. You may need to change out the towels every few days to keep the chervil microgreens harvest as fresh as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are microgreens wasteful? Are microgreens sustainable?
A: Not at all! In fact, you could argue that growing microgreens is more sustainable than growing a mature crop. Microgreens use significantly less water while producing more nutrients per serving than a full vegetable. They also take up less space, can be grown anywhere indoors, and don’t require fertilizer, pesticides, or other chemical applications.
Q: Are microgreens just sprouts?
A: Not quite. Sprouts are baby plants that pop out of a seed after germination. After the sprouts grow a few inches and fully unfold their cotyledons, they’re considered microgreens. So, one plant (like Anthriscus cerefolium) can be a sprout, microgreen, and mature plant in one growing season.
Q: Do microgreens grow back after cutting?
A: Some do, but most microgreens, including chervil, don’t grow back. Harvesting removes the nodes and growing tips so the microgreens cannot regrow.