Thursday, October 6, 2011

Veggies Starts From the Grocery Store

An oft-repeated warning to gardeners is to avoid using produce from the grocery to start garden plants. The usual caveat is that they will have been "treated with a sprouting inhibitor." Our experience suggests otherwise. So far in the past two years we have successfuly grown garlic, ginger, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes purchased from our usual grocer.

Garlic this year produced a bumper crop, with many heads the size of tennis balls.

Last year we produced about 8 times the weight of potatoes that we planted. I picked out several different types of spuds from the bin at Kroger. While not all of them behaved the same in our garden, all did produce potatoes. We were happiest with blue fingerlings and an elongated yellos-fleshed potato with red skin. These we will try again next season. (Due to space limitations, we only grow potatoes every other year.)

This year's success stories are ginger and sweet potatoes.

We planted two small pieces of ginger in pots last December and kept them going in the house all winter. They grew very slowly to about eight inches tall. In May, we transplanted them to one of the garden beds. After five months, we harvested just over two pounds of high-quality young ginger roots.
We rooted a sweet potato in water last February, and transplanted the slips to pots around the first of April. As soon at the weather was warm enough, we put them in the garden. Last Sunday we dug over 17 pounds of sweet potatoes.
Those big ones in the foreground are two pounds each.

We just planted shallots, also purchased at the grocery for a fraction of the price of "seed" stock. I fully expect to harvest a crop this time next year.

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.