Fresh herbs are key to delicious cooking, but when you eat them as much as I do, buying them from the shops can get insanely expensive. Growing them is fun and super easy, especially in a climate as lovely as ours! With only a bit of time and space it is possible to grow enough herbs to flavour all of your cooking creations.
It is possible to start plants from seeds, buy them as seedlings, or propagate (aka clone) them from adult plants yourself. With a simple technique and a little love and care, you can propagate a garden's herbs ad infinitum. With all your new plants, you will have enough for yourself and your friends to have a serious pesto party!
Here is the basic rundown for propagating herbs. This technique works best for leafy herbs such as mint, basil, lavender, or sage.
You will need the following things:
-A mature plant (This can be yours, a friend's, or the lavender at the Shenton Park train station. Propagation doesn't hurt the plant and promotes growth.)
-A sharp cutting instrument like a scalpel or razor
-Small pots or planting tray
-Rooting hormone (or honey!)
Note: Rooting hormone is available at any garden or hardware store. If you don't feel like making the small investment, it is possible to go without but your success rate may be lower. I've heard that dipping the cuttings in honey works just as well, and since honey is one thing that I have an obscene amount of, that is what I have been doing recently.
Odds are that not all of cuttings will survive, so it is best to make a few more than you think you will want!
Step 1: Take your parent plant and select a healthy branch with some new growth at the tip. Using your blade, cut off the last few centimetres or so of the branch, or right below the first set of mature leaves.
Step 2: Gently cut off all of the leaves except for the last few shoots at the tip. It is important when cutting that you slice cleanly without crushing the stem, cutting at a slight angle and not straight across to give the node more surface area. What you're left with will be a few baby shoots on a short stem, with a couple of fresh-cut nodes at the bottom -- this is where new roots will grow.
Step 3: Dip the cut tip of your branch into rooting hormone (or honey) and gently place it into your small pot of soil. You want very little stem sticking up, just enough to give the shoots some room.
Step 4: It is important to keep the babies well watered and warm at this stage. I keep mine in a wee greenhouse, but you can also use a terrarium or tray with some cling-wrap on top to keep the warmth and moisture in. Make sure they stay nice and wet, and in a few weeks they will sprout roots and new leaves.
That's it! You're on your way to unlimited herbs. If you do this a few times a year, you will always have plants at different stages of growth to work with. Anyone can do it!