If you are a fan of French cuisine then you may already be familiar with this classic French herb. Chervil is a delicate herb, a member of the parsley family but with a slight aniseed flavour. Chervil can be grown in a polytunnel and when it is, it may be easier to keep slugs and snails from having a feast. However, it is important to note that chervil will quickly go to seed and will not last long in hot weather and so you should be sure to sow earlier rather than later and should provide plenty of shade to keep the plant cool.
It is best to direct sow chervil where it is to grow. Sow in March or early April in the polytunnel for a summer crop and autumn-winter for a spring crop. In more northerly reaches of the UK you will need to give the chervil a little extra protection over the winter months. Be sure to water the chervil regularly, especially in warm and dry conditions. If you decide not to direct sow chervil then it is best to sow it in a tall and biodegradable container. Chervil has a long taproot and will not appreciate root disturbance. A toilet roll tube can work well to give you a head start indoors before the weather grows warm enough in the spring as this can be planted with the chervil and so will not cause disturbance to the roots of the young seedling. (Starting indoors may be a better solution for you if you have a particularly bad problem with slugs and snails.)
Chervil will quickly go to seed if the temperatures rise too high. Try to prolong the life of your chervil by giving it some shade as spring progresses into summer. It is also a good idea to keep the doors of your polytunnel open and create good ventilation as the weather begins to warm.
Simply pick chervil leaves as required and use as soon as possible. Chervil leaves are best fresh and should only be added to dishes right at the end of cooking as they are delicate and can easily lose their flavour. Chervil is said to have a range of health benefits. It is also popular for flavour in a wide range of different soups, fish and egg dishes. Chervil should be used fresh as it will not dry or store particularly well.