Rumex acetosa (scutatus)
Sorrel, commonly called garden sorrel, produces leaves with a sharp, lemony flavor. A high oxalic acid content, which may be troublesome for persons subject to gout, causes the sharpness.
• More detailed information can be found in The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Book by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing
Although sorrel leaves are used in salads or cooked as greens, sorrel is best known for its use in French sorrel soup. This hardy plant can become a weed in the garden if it is not contained. Plants spread 2 feet and send up a 2foot seed stalk if it is not cut off.
WHEN TO PLANT
Finding sorrel in garden centers may be difficult. If you prefer to work with transplants instead of seed, you may want to plan ahead and start your own. Sow seed in starter trays indoors under lights in March. Sow seed or set out started plants as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. Sorrel can stand a light frost, so plants may be set out at least 2 weeks before the frostfree date (average date of last frost).
WHERE TO PLANT
These plants are quite adaptable to conditions in the garden but choose a planting site with welldrained soil in full sun (8 to 10 hours will suffice) for the best production. Give them soil with a high fertility level and they will be even more productive. Since sorrel is a perennial and will stay in the same place from year to year, plant it where it will not be disturbed by other garden activities. A halfdozen plants are probably adequate for most gardeners.
HOW TO PLANT
Prepare the soil. Set started plants, or sow seed directly in the garden, spaced 1 foot apart in rows or beds.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Few, if any, pests bother sorrel. Mites may be the exception and affect the plants in hot dry weather. To combat mites, spray with insecticidal soap and remember to rinse the leaves before using them in the kitchen. Control weeds until the plants are well established.
Remove flower stalks to keep plants producing. Harvest tender green leaves as needed and use them fresh. Divide the plants every 3 years.