Thursday, October 6, 2011

Veggie and Herb Starts From the Grocery Store

An oft-repeated warning to gardeners suggests avoiding using vegetables from the grocery store to start new plants for the garden. The usual reason given is that the products have been "treated with an inhibitor" to prevent sprouting. After having successfully raised a number of plants purchased at my local grocery, I am convinced that these warnings are wrong.

Long ago, I learned to root herb cuttings from the market. I simply purchase a bunch of fresh herbs. Then, choosing the best looking stems, I remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds, recut the lowermost half inch from stem and place the cuttings in a glass of water. I place the glass in indirect light and in about two weeks to a month I have rooted cuttings ready to pot up. I still have thriving plants of Greek oregano and French thyme that I started this way, and every season I start both mint and basil. These last two practically root overnight.

Besides herbs, I have also grown garlic, ginger, potatoes and sweet potatoes from the produce department. This year's garlic crop was one of my best ever, with some heads the size of tennis balls. Several varieties of potatoes that I planted last year gave us a bumber crop of delicious spuds that we enjoyed all winter. This year, I planted two sweet potato plants that had been started in February from a root purchased at the grocery. We recently harvested over 17 pounds of potatoes from those two plants.

A couple of pieces of ginger root, less than three ounces altogether, yielded over two pounds of young ginger, pictured above.

This week, we planted shallots from the grocery. I fully expect we will have good results at harvest time next fall.

So, if you are appalled at the prices being asked for seed potatoes just purchase a few at your local market. Chances are, you will enjoy the same success that Jerry and I have.

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