Monday, November 7, 2016

Urban Farmer: Grow Herbs in Water

Many urban dwellers wants to have plants that can also be consumed by them. In many urban dwellings, there are "water" plants and succulents that are taken cared of. In fact, many residents of condominiums and townhouses keep plants in their residences so as to maintain a modicum of contact to nature.

The unavailability of soil stymies increased efforts in urban gardening and is seen also as a hurdle when seeking to grow herbs and spices in their abodes.

There exists herbs and plants that can be grown "hydroponically", which means they can be grown without soil and only use water i containers. 

Here are tips that can be the "starter kits" for the budding urban gardener/farmer:


For a simple herb stand in the kitchen, you can root herb cuttings in plain water in glass bottles. Avoid using chlorinated water directly as the bleaching chemical is not exactly friendly to plant tissues. Tap water that has been left to air overnight is fine, so is stored rainwater. Spring water or well water is the best because it has some amount of dissolved minerals that may be of use to plants.

As for the container, mason jars or any other glass bottles will do, even plastic bottles. Roots generally like to grow away from light, so colored bottles, especially amber colored ones (such as these) are best. You can just wrap a piece of paper around the bottle to keep the root zone in the dark. This will even prevent algal growth on the container walls and on the root surface. Algae do not adversely affect plant growth, but they make the bottles look untidy.   

Narrow-mouthed containers have an advantage: they can support the cuttings and keep them nearly upright. However, the mouth of the container shouldn’t be too narrow or tight-fitting around the cutting. The roots have to breathe, and the mouth of the container should allow free movement of air.

If you’re using a wide-mouthed container, you have the option of covering the top with nylon or wire netting. Insert the cuttings through the holes, and that will offer some support to the cuttings. Another advantage, especially in warmer areas, is that the netting prevents mosquitoes from laying eggs in the water and multiplying.

Plant cuttings   

Soft cuttings are pretty quick to root in water. You don’t need to use any rooting hormones. If you have some herbs growing in the garden, snip off 6-inch sections from growing tips and put them in the water-filled containers. The best part of growing herbs from cuttings is that you can use the ones you get from the supermarket. Just wash them in plain water and cut off the lower portion.

Remove lower leaves from cuttings and trim the lower tips close to the nodes from where the roots arise. When they are inserted into the bottles, there shouldn’t be any leaves touching the water. They can rot easily and spoil the water, as they do in flower vases.  

Woody cuttings like rosemary may take longer to root, so be patient. Change the water once a week without disturbing the cuttings. Once the roots start growing, usually between 2-6 weeks, water changes may not be necessary.

About the Author

The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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