Sunday, 12 June 2011

Something You Should Know About Supermarket Herbs

As I stood making myself a cup of mint tea (with homegrown mint), I cast my eye across the kitchen and espied my pot of rosemary that I bought from the supermarket to tide me over whilst I patiently wait for my own rosemary seeds to germinate.  Seeing the pot reminded me of something that I read about supermarket herb plants and I was overcome with the need to share this little gem of information with all budding Grow-Your-Own folk.  After all, nothing is lost when one candle lights another.

Have you ever noticed that when you buy a herb plant from the supermarket, it seems to have a disappointingly short life span?  You bring it into your life, place it on a sunny windowsill or some other highly appropriate spot and shower it with TLC, hopeful that all this care and attention will ensure that the plant will continue to bring you endless joy for time immemorial.  Alas!  After a few weeks you realise that no matter how much TLC you give it, it seems intent on keeling over and dieing on you, just as you begin to truly appreciate its contributions to your culinary adventures.  As it turns out, there is a very good reason for this.  Apparently, the herb's life span is as short as it is due to the fact that there are too many plants potted in too small a pot.  This prevents the individual plants within the pot from maturing to the extent that they can because they do not have enough space for their root systems to become well established.

This knowledge is invaluable because the solutions are so incredibly simple and you can get so much more out of your supermarket herbs if you rectify this uncomplicated problem.  There are at least two things that you could do to ensure that your herb plant lasts longer.  The first thing is rifle around the soil that it is potted in and see how many different plants are actually in the pot.  Once you've established this, you can simply repot each of them into their own individual containers.  Not only will you instantaneously have 'more' herb plants, but each one of them will be able to be their own plant and thus grow much bigger and better than they ever could have in their previously cramped conditions. The second solution is to repot the entire thing into one much bigger pot that will provide each little plant with the space that it requires to flourish and grow for as long as possible.  If you decide that this solution is the one for you, be sure to check the distance between each of the individual plants.  It may well be that they will need to be spaced further apart in the bigger container if they are to develop as nature had intended.  You can find this information virtually anywhere: online, the back of seed packets and books to name a few places, so don't be deterred if you are unsure of the correct distance that should exist between the plants.  I can guarantee you that you will have an answer within five minutes of looking for it.

Armed with this jewel of knowledge, you can now take steps to ensure that you get the most out of your supermarket herb plants, converting them from 2-3 week wonders into robust, bushy beauties bursting with herbal goodness.

You're welcome! :-)


  1. Great to know! Thanks Lou - I thought it was me! But I still cannot resist buying growing herbs even though I know I'm going to end up killing them within a few days - hopefully this will give my next lot a new lease on life...xtam

  2. So useful! Why don't they just tell us these things in the 1st place? looking forward to giving this a try!

    Thanks lou!