Clippings

Clippings are a great way to extend your garden in both space and time, sounds like science fiction but it’s just the wonders of nature!

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It’s perfect for container gardeners and balcony gardeners like me.

It can be a little added insurance if your garden is prone to pests like my garden is with aphids or forgetful watering like mine also is… I can sometimes be a neglectful gardener so having some herbs on standby is definitely good planning.

It’s a cheap way to get a plant into multiple containers without having to buy multiples of the same plant. Garden center plants are often designed for planting in the ground and are a bit bigger than you need for a balcony/container garden. Rather than buy multiples, I plant one main plant usually in a pot with a few different herbs and use clippings to add them to pots with things like tomatoes and cucumbers where they’re a great companion plant but I don’t want them to take up as much space.

They’re also good way to save plants through the winter. Unlike growing herbs in the ground where the roots or the spread of seeds can often bring back an herb year after year. A container herb probably won’t last through the winter. If you leave it in the container it will probably get too cold and if you move it into garbage bags it’ll be hard to find if it lasts at all. I’ve had tarragon and mint survive the bag but I like a bit more security.

They’re also a great way to bring plants in for the winter without bringing in outside soil that may have outdoor pests nesting in the soil. You can plant them once they take root in potting soil and enjoy fresh herbs in the winter.

Clippings work for most herbs and while they don’t always take root, they also cost nothing to try.

Last year I brought in marjoram, and lemon thyme. I washed the plants in a light mix of dish soap and water because I read that that would remove any potential pests like aphids.

Unfortunately the soapy water didn’t work for the whole season, there were still aphids later in the winter and the lemon thyme didn’t make it though it did take root and lasted most of the winter. I also neglected them a bit and probably should have dealt with the aphid problem sooner.

The marjoram did make it, and although it was looking pretty sickly with aphids by the end, now that it’s been planted outside it seems to be doing great! If you look closely you can see the healthy new leaves next to some of the older ones.

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While I think an herb plant is well worth the investment, $1.99 usually for a plant at most garden centers (that’s the same price as buying a pack of cut herbs in a store). A free herb plant is even better!

1. Snip the plant close to the base.

2. Wash gently with a little soapy water or next time I may try water with a bit of cayenne pepper. Remove the bottom half of leaves so the leaves don’t rot in the water.

3. Place in a glass bottle or jar, I like bottles with a small opening like glass beverage bottles because the water evaporates less quickly and the clippings stay in place better instead of falling into the jar but I’ve found strained tomato jars (passata jars) also work well.

4. Place in a sunny place and wait for the plant to develop a lot of roots. And be sure to check water level often and refill as needed.

5. Plant in new pot or old one when ready.

If aphids or other pests appear, wash the leaves in soapy water again. I neglected this step and just let the aphids take hold. In retrospect I wish I’d done it more.

Clippings can keep for quite awhile if cared for correctly (basically just top off with water often and remove aphids), the marjoram lasted all winter in it’s jar. However, if you want to use it for cooking it’s best to plant it in soil as new growth is slow if nonexistent in a jar of water.

This basil was put in a jar 2 weeks ago and the roots are already starting to form.

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