Gardening expert shares how to turn leftovers into ‘fabulous’ plants

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Resilient gardening expert, Kim Stoddart, who is the co-author of the newly published The Climate Change Garden book by Quarto, told “Everything has become so expensive and gardening is no exception, but thankfully there are lots of ways to source many no-cost materials and plants for the garden and home. Saving money in this way also feels incredibly good and turning waste into wondrous materials is a truly positive action in light of all the stressful things happening in the world.

“It’s also fun to experiment and good for confidence building to turn leftover bits into fabulous plants. I think it makes for a better gardening experience overall as these are resilient materials and skills that money simply can’t buy.”

1. Rescue any supermarket herb pots

Buying ready-grown herbs in the supermarket can be easy, but will often die very quickly. According to Kim, this is because they often pack lots of seedlings into one pot to make them look good in the shop.

The pro explained: “The idea being you have to go back and buy more very soon after. However, these plants can be often given a new lease of life by dividing the pot, and roots, into four plants and potting on into lots of fresh new compost.

“Just remove some of the larger leaves after planting out (and eat) to help the herbs adjust to their new spacious quarters.

“Parsley and coriander are easiest to work with at this time of year as basil doesn’t like the cold, I know the feeling.

2. Store cupboard plants

Kim recommends taking a look through your kitchen cupboards to see if there is anything you can find to work with, as there could be something in there that can be grown on.

The gardening expert noted: “Packets of dried peas are great for windowsill pea shoots and you can use an old supermarket tray and some multipurpose compost to grow them in for delectable pickings.

“Coriander and fennel seed can be further germinated to grow into plants and any dried chickpeas can be brought to life as sprouted shoots for a fantastic stir fry and salad ingredient.”

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3. Take some soft fruit cuttings

Gardeners should choose from blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry bushes but blackcurrants are the easiest to work with for starters.

Kim said there are whole books on the topic of taking cuttings, but it is a “very quick and simple” thing to do.

“The expert explained: “Just snip off roughly a hand’s length portion of healthy-look stem and plant in a bare patch of soil in the ground or in a pot outside.”

Make sure to plant about an inch down, a few inches apart. Kim said come springtime, they will start growing leaves.

She added: “Just avoid stems that look diseased or too old but otherwise it really is that straightforward to do. I’ve had cuttings take before in the compost heap which gives you an idea of how resilient these bushes can be.

“The only other rule is that in the process of taking your cuttings, do squeeze one of the buds as it will release the tantalising smell of summer with its scent of freshly picked blackcurrants, so this is a sure-fire happy gardener must.”

4. Fruity fun

Many citrus fruits which have seeds in can be encouraged to germinate into plants, including lemons and limes which are “well worth growing on”.

Kim explained: “Carefully remove the seed and try the seed test to determine viability. Place them in a glass of water to see which sink to the bottom and which rise to the surface.

“It’s the ones which sink that you want to use. I then place them in wet tissue wrapped in a reusable plastic bag in a warm spot to encourage germination.

“They do require a heating hand at this time of year. When they have sprouted, you can then plant them in moist peat-free multipurpose compost and keep them warm and protected to further nurture new growth.

“Whilst you can’t expect homegrown citrus fruits anytime soon, they make fantastic houseplants and lime leaves can be used as a brilliant ingredient for curries and cooking.”

Kim is an award winning environmental journalist who has been writing about climate change and resilience since 2013. She is editor of The Organic Way magazine and co-author of the new The Climate Change Garden book, and runs a range of resilient grow your own courses in person and online around the UK.

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