I have a few plant projects going right now that I’m most excited about. First, there’s the “avocado forest,” which consists of every avocado pit that our neighbor Stephanie, Justin and I have eaten for probably the last year. There are plants in all stages of growth, some as old as two years; others as recent as this evening. During the heat wave (July) some of the pits I had outside rotted in the heat, and started to stink up the joint, so I threw them into the compost. I don’t know if they’ll bear plants in those conditions, but it seemed to me that they were d-e-d: dead. The avocado saplings below survived the heat wave… or at least most of them did. Justin & I went camping for a week at the solstice and when we got back, they were all bone dry and nearly dead. I clipped all their burnt leaves — some of the plants went down to their bare stalk — and let them sit in cool water for a couple of days. Soon they started to feel better and, now, they’re thriving in our lovely august weather.
The internet is good for a lot o things, but it can sometimes be difficult to get a straight-forward answer, especially with plants. I guess the reason is because there’s not only one true way to do things, but there are many ways that follow similar patterns that allow you to take some educated risks. Having been able to sprout many of the avocado seeds, I thought I’d try a mango.
I had tried to grow a mango a while back, but didn’t realize that it had an outer shell, like an almond, that protects the seed. Once I realized this, I got another mango and cracked open the shell, and just sat the seed in clean water on the window sill. But neglectful as I can sometimes be, I forgot about it and it dried up, even after sprouting a tiny little root! So I added more water and turned it on its side using the “avocado toothpick” method and unbelievably, it put out a shoot. Below it is pictured just a couple weeks later.
And one last tragedy-cum-rightly: my pomegranate.
So in April, I started some pomegranate seeds from a fruit I ate earlier that month when I was all hopped up on the idea of Mediterranean Pomegranate Foul [fool] Salad that I got up in Boston at this falafel joint that was, seriously, the best freaking falafel sandwich I have ever had — but I digress: I got the seed from a late pomegranate, and it sprouted! And I was SOOOOO excited. I nurtured it and loved it and watered it… I mean, I was really, really jazzed about this little guy!
It had grown a few inches, even; I’d say it was about 4″ tall when that heat wave collided with my camping adventure and this poor pomegranate suffered unfairly under those conditions. Luckily, I had saved another dozen or so seeds in case such an event should occur, and since it did, I planted them about 3 weeks ago in a little ceramic pot and tray that I kept covered with a sandwich baggie until my beautiful, delicate little green sprout poked up a few days ago. AND THEN a friend joined the party! So now I have two little pomegranate seedlings, still so young they don’t even have their first true leaves. I try not to dote, but.. oh, hell: who am I kidding? I totally dote on them.
The last of my experiments for now is propagating by taking cuttings. I needed to make a couple indoor woody herb plants for a project that I’m working on but I didn’t want to use rooting hormone because, well, I just didn’t. I think that maybe it’s fine to use rooting hormone for decorative plants, but I felt kind of weird about it for consumables; in any case, I found some suggestions to use honey the same way you would use rooting compound on a wound from a heel cutting, so I prepared three rosemary and one sage. I have no idea if the honey will work, but I figured it was worth a try and since the honey was from the very bees that live in the garden where I collected my cuttings, there was a certain feeling of infinite natural packaging that accompanied the project.