Thursday 18 October 2012

Supermarket Herbs

Supermarket herbs, so lush and green in their pots, more densely lush than anything you tend to find in your own plantings and even at the garden centre on occasion, yet you use them a couple of times and then they die.  So you go and buy some more ...... just like you are supposed to.... in the supermarkets eyes, a nice steady earner!!

A third time around Coriander
I have had to resort to buying supermarket herbs a few times this year as my own have been attacked by slugs in the greenhouse and then last week .... neglected by Lovely Hubby while I was away.  Of course it's all my own fault I didn't remind him, I forgot to erect the neon arrow pointing down to them that was obviously needed and the A4 sheet of written instructions in bright red ink.......Lol.....only kidding, he did amazingly well while I was away .....apart from watering my herbs!!
This Parsley is also on for it's third resurrection.
The ones in this picture,  Parsley on the left and Mint on the right, were fully grown lovely bushy relatively new plants when I left, I had used each two or three times and there was at least another couple of uses out of each one to come, and then they would have had this treatment.
After some of the comments yesterday and the emails asking for tips I got this morning I thought I would just show you how far I do cut my bought herbs back after they are all used up for the first time.
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When you first buy them they look so lush because they have actually been planted too many seedlings to a pot, this means that they have to fight for nutrients and water, and their roots are too closely entwined for each plant to really thrive for long.  So tip number one is ..... the first time you use them you should pull a few stems completely out of the pot, roots and all.  Of course if you were being really frugal you could try to transplant these uprooted seedlings, sometimes it works, but I don't bother with this, I use what I have pulled up in my cooking and put the little root bit in the chickens bowl.  Waste not want not!
This gives all the remaining plants more space in the light and more room for their roots in the compost.  I then look after the plants by checking daily how heavy the pots are and if they are too light, which means the compost is drying out I give them a drink, watering from below, hence the reason I keep them all in yogurt pots or planters.  As they are on the kitchen windowsill if they are leaning towards the light I turn the pot to give all sides equal access to the light. 
Once the herbs have all been used up or if they are starting to look sorry for themselves I give them the chop.  Literally right down to just above the soil and within one or two days you will see the start of new growth.
The first time you do this you are virtually guaranteed a second crop of leaves, and then if you are lucky you can do it all over again.  The reason this works at least once is that the plant has already got itself a good root system, so it can put all it's energy into making news leaves to replace the ones you've hacked off, and as it's the leaves you are after it's perfect.
Sometimes it's even worth buying the herbs when the supermarkets reduce them to 10p or 20p when they look like they will never recover, if the plant itself doesn't revive with a good drink, and they usually do, (why don't they even bother to water their living plants) you can chop all the leaves off and do this.
Give it a go and see for yourself.
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Maybe if Lovely Hubby reads this post he will remember to water my plants next time........ she says with a big cheesy grin on her face!!

Sue xx


  1. a friend said she gives her pots of herbs Reiki when they start to wilt...I'm thinking of giving it a try, so fed-up with brown basil on the third day!

  2. I loved this post - I've been doing something a bit similar for years but it so good to hear someone else say give it a go! Thanks I found you via SFT blog and I'm going to follow, loved what I've read so far off to find more of interest!Cheers!

  3. I wonder if splitting the supermarket pots would work i.e. buy one, immediately divide and replant separately as two or three plants. That would give more room for roots to develop?

    Just a thought. Never tried it. But might give it a go..

  4. I use them up like you suggest, cut them right back then plant them in my herb garden! Doesn't work so well over winter as it's a wee bit too chilly, but over summer, a couple of pots of basil and the garden is full by mid summer!!

  5. I've managed to keep a supermarket basil plant going all summer long by potting it up into a larger pot and putting it in the garden. It's looking in a rather sorry state now but for 69p it has provided us with no end of fresh basil for months and months.

  6. I have a green thumb....outdoors. When I bring plants inside they don't seem to do as well!

  7. Another tip - you can grow basil from cuttings - just pop in water for a few days and they'll start producing roots for replanting. :-)
    @ Rustyduck - you can split the pots out, tease the roots apart gently.
    If you have an Aldi nearby their living herbs are better value to start off with - if you have such things in Berks!!! ;-)

  8. My Basil & Parsley looked so dead I thought they were beyond resurrection !

  9. I always buy a pot of parsley in Spring and divide it into about 30 plants. They grow beautifully in the greenhouse and the veggie patch and I never have to buy anymore all year. Basil I just about manage to keep going all year inside on the windowsill although it sometimes tries to die when I forget to water but always seems to revive again. Coriander I find much more difficult to keep whatever I do. I end up buying about four plants through the year. Sandra


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