There’s a list more lengthy than I’d like to admit of plants I continue buying the seeds of, pampering to the greatest extent, but I have yet to grow into adulthood.
Turnip rooted chervil (Chearophyllum bulbosum) was very near the top of the list. It was while searching for this seed I became aquainted with Wojchiech who I still have linked on my Seed sources page. For three years I bought the seed, spreading it around in fall, spring, stratifying in the fridge and planting into a flat. I never got so much as a sprout.
Last spring I was showing a friend around the food forest when I came to the guild featured in Fruiting factors and saw some feathery leafed plants in quite a definite patch. Since Wojchiech is very generous with this seed, I have literally spread it any place the grass is cleared away. A single spot growing so thick with the stuff seemed unlikely.
Something must be right in that spot because the stuff grew to over six foot (descriptions site four feet usually) blooming very prettily in late summer with legions of wasps and tiny bees I had never seen. I did check closely and am sure it is C. bulbosum.
The edible roots are best at the end of the first year, which I obviously had missed, so left them all to seed. I made sure plenty of seed was left to reseed the patch, but got a decent amount to spread around in all the other spots I thought it would grow.
I have yet to find a sprout in any of those places, but last year’s patch is coming up thickly fairly with mature looking plants, and lots of sprouts.
The reason for this preference? I really can’t tell. It’s in the guild that excels in about every way though. My best guess is it needs protection from evening sun and wind, which it gets from the garage about 25 ft to the west. It’s out of the sun for maybe an hour or two before the rest of the food forest depending on the position of the sun.
C. bulbosum is a biennial; so I was curious about these larger plants. They might be late rising seeds I originally planted, or early sprouters from last year’s dropped seed; genetics in wild plants especially can vary a lot in their stratification requirements. I had to wonder though if they had made any appreciable root?
Not much. The root was about two inches below the soil and maybe as big around as a dime. I expected it to be a little bigger and will check again in fall of they don’t bloom.
Even if it doesn’t turn out to be an amazing edible, it’s a great insectary. Most important, I can scratch it off the list of plants I, in vain, keep trying to grow. That gets frustrating after a while.