In Planthae, the vegetable cabinet of Elena Páez, in the center of Madrid, a workshop with a curious name is given: From the seeds of your garbage you will obtain your new plants. For those who like plants, undoubtedly a booming decorative resource, it may be interesting to discover that there is a very easy way to not only avoid unsustainable marketing channels, but also save money without giving up on them. In exchange for just maybe a little patience it is possible to get free plants. It is a matter of learning to cut, propagate or seed. “The crazy consumption of plants wants to be considered ecological, but it is a consumption equal to or worse than any other,” explains Páez, recalling one of the incentives behind this initiative.
The approach is simple: instead of buying a lemon tree in the supermarket, for example, it is about getting a plant to sprout from a lemon pip, with patience, which will become a tree and bear fruit in a few years. Páez recalls that you only have to think about the cycle of wild plants, about what happens when an animal feeds on a rotting fruit and takes its seed to another place. Without leaving the kitchen you can imitate this natural cycle, taking the seeds before consuming the plant.
Seed a melon
The summer months are a good time to extract seeds from that sweet and fresh melon that crowns after-dinner meals. Elena Páez points out that the more organic the fruit is, and, therefore, the less genetic modification processes it has undergone, the more chances of success that seed will have. “You have to put the seeds in water, and those that float are thrown away,” she explains. “We put the rest in the fridge, wrapped in aluminum foil, for three weeks. The point of this is to provide darkness and cold, so that they experience a false winter.” Melon seeds are sown between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, and your plant needs a lot of sun and substrate to develop.
Get seeds from a pepper
“Something that many people don’t know is that you have to wait for the peppers to mature before the seeds are viable.” This is the advice of Ester Casanovas, head of the Picarona blog and author of the book city gardeners. “For a frying pepper to be ripe, it has to change color, from green to red. When you open it, the seeds, instead of the white color we are used to, have to have a creamy shade of brown.”
Reproducing a basil plant in water
Casanovas confesses another secret, this time referring to the basil plants that more and more people treasure in their kitchen: “To extend the life of the plant, it is advisable to prune it regularly.” “Not just remove the leaves, but cut at the twig,” he says. “When you take it to the kitchen you can put it in a glass of water and it can last up to a week in good condition, and most likely it will take root, with which you could get a new plant.” Casanovas says that when it has enough roots it can be transplanted into a pot with soil. After this process, you have to keep it in the same place where the glass of water was, watering it daily, until the first leaves appear, a sign that it is strong enough to take it outside, dosing the dose of shade until it is placed in a location in full sun.
cutting a tomato plant
It is true that the tomato seeds can be obtained directly from the fruit itself, “removing the gel that surrounds them with a teaspoon, but without removing the meat”, as explained by Irene Galicia, co-founder with Lucía Frere of the store on-line Cultivando.es. Two or three days in a glass of water to ferment, strain, dry and store in a dry, cool and dark place, afterwards. However, for those who already have a tomato plant at home, it may be interesting to learn how to propagate by cuttings.
It is well known to all informed tomato plant owners that they need to be pruned. Smaller ones called “suckers” appear on the branches, which have a very bad reputation, because they force the plant to distribute its resources among parts that will not be used for human consumption. What Irene Galicia suggests is a new utility for those despised suckers. “They can be put in water so that roots come out, which they do super fast,” she explains. “If a branch breaks, which is very common, you can do the same and get a new plant.”
And what about decorative indoor plants?
“Almost all indoor plants can be cut with a clean cut, above at least one knot (although better if there are two or three) so that more roots come out when we put it in water, which we will change every two or three days”, explains Galicia. “Depending on the plant, in a week or two we will have roots that are two or four inches long, which is a perfect length to plant in the ground.” The expert recommends this method for plants with soft stems, and for those with more woody stems, such as rosemary, and she prefers to use a liquid or powder rooting agent. “Some that are very easy to cut are the iresines, the cleos…”, but she points out flowering plants as perfect for extracting seeds. “All plants that have flowers have seeds. In some, like the nasturtium, they are very easy to identify, because they are quite large. Undoubtedly the most curious of plants will want to try their luck.