Why buy ? (when nature gives for nout.)

When Hal and I first talked about joining forces, herbs were high on my my agenda ; the creation of an extensive plantation with the intention of developing tasty teas and potions was a major part of the plan. But with so many ideas elbowing for attention my aromatic vision got sort of sidelined. Well, autumn is well and truly here, the garden is looking pretty tidy, and my sidekick may well be starstruck, but I want to get on with the nurturing of my witchly tendancies. With that in mind, this morning I cackled my way out to wander the proposed site and mull over the possibilites.

And this is where my inclination for peeling off in random directions strikes, yet again. Crouching by the savoury and thyme bushes I began to imagine how many plants would be needed to create a border leading into the main body of the garden. With just a handful of specimens in a holding bed, multiplication would be necessary. Off I trotted to fill a bucket with large stones. Planning forgotton, it was all aboard for mission marcottage ( or layering, if you prefer the less romantic english term.) Now layering is such an astonishingly simple method of plant propagation that it’s incredible everyone isn’t doing it. A thought which sends me veering off, sharp left to Sophie…

A layered fig branch given by Sophie. Planted it out a year ago...we'll be eating the fruit next summer :)
A layered fig branch given by Sophie. Planted it out a year ago…we’ll be eating the fruit next summer 🙂

Yup, Sophie is another gardening friend. When she and her husband bought their home twenty odd years ago, it was a collection of outbuildings plonked in the middle of a large stretch of flat and uninteresting agricultural land. You’d be hard pressed to imagine that now, the veritable oasis it has become. Trees, all shapes and sizes, surrounding a hidden treasure of a garden and all – this is the important bit – all achieved for free ! You see Sophie is the queen of propagation. Cuttings, layering, swapping and sharing. Impossible to leave, after however flying a visit, without a big grin and a couple of pots in the boot of the car.

It sometimes feels like everything we do costs money and so used to this have we become that rather than examine the initial need, or how we could achieve our desires without it, we simply work out how much more cash we need to earn, or borrow… And that’s far to miserable a thought to take into winter.

So I thought it might be cool to share some of the techniques we use that enable us to plant and share with abandon. A few simple pointers and you’ll be free to wander around a friends coveted garden knowing that with a very little work, a jot of patience and nature’s discreet assistance yours too could grow as green. ..for nout.

A natural desire it seems, is to spread. This gooseberry bush, with a little assistance has become three - yay!
A natural desire it seems, is to spread. This gooseberry bush, with a little assistance has become three – yay!

So how do we help?

Locate your plant, a healthy specimen with spreading growth, practically anything bushy will work, (yikes, the fortunes people spend on fruit bushes!)

 I'm digging a shallow trench away from the base of the plant. (This is common savoury btw.)
I’m digging a shallow trench away from the base of the plant. (This is common savoury btw.)
Bending a low branch into the trench...
Bending a low branch into the trench…
Covering with earth...
Covering with earth…
...and placing a stone on top to weight it down.
…and placing a stone on top to weight it down.

If your plants stems are too brittle, or too far from the ground you could always have a go at aerial layering…

Choose a healthy branch and snap away side shoots...(these are blueberries, layered specimens of course!)
Choose a healthy branch and snap away side shoots…(these are blueberries, layered specimens of course!)
Take an old rag with a handful of garden soil and wrap snugly around the stem...
Take an old rag with a handful of garden soil and wrap snugly around the stem…
Tie off, good and secure...
Tie off, good and secure…
And enjoy your little mummies bobbbing about in the wind! (if you want to get all discreet, hessian and brown twine are just as effective!)
And enjoy your little mummies bobbbing about in the wind! (if you want to get all discreet, hessian and brown twine are just as effective!)

And that, is basically that. Next season you can cut the new plant from it’s mother, dig it up or unbind it, and pop it where your fancy takes you. Done too many? Whack them into pots and give them away…now there’s a thought for christmas….

Well I’ve still got thyme alley to prepare, hope this has given you some ideas!

’til next week,

mandy xxx

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