Friday, April 26, 2013

Of crème de menthe, the vagaries of parsley seeding and propagation

Various things I noticed while working in the garden this week.
Same tulip, but with flowers closed

Corsican Mint

This mess of stems and small leaves is a picture of Mentha requienii, the Corsican mint, coming out of hibernation (it will look much nicer this summer). It is a very short creeping plant which you can walk on (it will accommodate light foot traffic) and whenever you do tread on it, it produces a strong mint smell. I was trimming off dead pieces and raking leaves off it the other day, when I was reminded right away that this is the plant they make crème de menthe with. The perfume is quite strong, I know because I do not have a very good sense of smell, and even I can smell it the moment I break a piece. It grows beautifully between the pieces of limestone that covers our paths. It also grows in shade which is a big plus, as most of these creepers are sun lovers. I have never used it as a flavouring herb, but it could no doubt be used. The only problem is that it is so small you could not get many leaves. Still, the fact that the flavour is very strong would no doubt compensate.

Parsley sprouting

Parsley: it is a difficult plant to grow from seed. Germination is rather erratic. Some instructions will say “freeze the seeds for a few weeks before planting them”, other will say “pour boiling water on the seed before planting them”. They obviously need some kind of shock. Late last summer, I started some parsley seed (without boiling or freezing them, I must admit), and none of them came up. However, cleaning the herb garden this spring, what do I see, but lots of small plants coming up where I seeded the parsley! I suppose the winter gave the seeds the shock they needed.

I still have a package of parsley seed, half of it is in the freezer and the other half will get the boiling water treatment. I hope to get even more plants. You can never have too much parsley. I prefer the broadleaf variety, but I also grow the curly one.

Black Currants & Gooseberry cuttings
Now for propagation. In my recent post about pruning roses I mentioned doing cuttings, I thought a few pictures would show how I do them. These are hardwood cuttings, meaning that you use wood that grew the previous summer. You can do it in the fall or in the spring. I have some currants and gooseberries I did last fall. I put the cuttings in a pot which I buried in the garden (left out of the ground, the cold would have killed the cuttings). The new plants should be ready this fall or, better still, next spring.

I also have some roses I did this spring. You will notice the plastic bottles. These make sure the air surrounding the cuttings remains humid and warmer. You can also buy plastic “cloches”, but an empty plastic bottle does just as well (you have to make sure the screw top is not left on). The currants and gooseberries will also get a dome of some sort. You can succeed by leaving the cuttings uncovered, but you have to be much more careful in watering them regularly.
Rose Cuttings

In the summer, I will put the pots in a place where they are in the shade for a good part of the day. In full sun they could cook under their “domes”. Your cuttings should have about three or four buds, and two of them should be buried. There are lists on the Net of what shrubs will grow from hardwood cuttings.
Cuttings under a plastic "cloche"

1 comment:

  1. I like this variety of tulips, I'm going to buy some bulbs :)


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