Regrow! The Process of Vegetative Propagation II – Spices and Garnishes

No seeds? No problem! You can grow some vegetables bought from the market without seeds. This type of propagation is known as vegetative propagation – the process of growing using other parts of the plants other than its seeds. 

In our second part of the series on regrowing your own edible plants vegetatively from market produce, we turn our attention to spices and garnishes you can get locally to save for vegetative propagation.

You can also read the first article in this series where we highlighted vegetables scraps or extra tubers you can use.

Spices and garnishes are often used to flavour food or add that finishing touches to your culinary creations and are especially useful to have fresh around in the home. Read on to find out more: 


Lemongrass

Photo credit: Jennie Tang

 

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is used in both sweet and savoury cuisine: from the mouth-watering Tom Yum soup to the refreshing lemongrass drink, this is a very versatile ingredient for culinary purposes.

The plant belongs to the grass family (Poaceae) and can grow up to 1.2 m tall. The leaves emit a pleasant lemony fragrance when crushed. Lemongrass is easy to grow as long as it is planted in a bright and sunny spot. It is relatively pest-free and is undemanding when it comes to the soil type and watering regime.

Here’s how you can grow your own lemongrass at home:


  1. Select a stalk of Lemongrass with an intact portion of the pseudostem (the stalk should not have the bottom ‘plate’ cut off).

  2. Cut off about two-thirds of the stalk from the top, which can be used for cooking.

  3. Place the remaining bottom part of the stalk upright into a jar or glass, filled with about 3 cm of water.

  4. Position the glass or jar in a semi-shaded or brightly lit area and change the water regularly to prevent mosquito breeding or fouling of the water.

  5. New leaves should start to emerge from the tip and roots develop at the base in about a week or two.

  6. Once roots and new leaves have emerged, you can transplant the stalk into potting soil to be grown in a sunny location.

 

Cilantro

Photo credit: Jennie Tang

 

Love it or hate it, cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is often a contention in dishes. Some liken its taste to that of soap while others find its aroma pleasing and complements the main dish. Recent studies have shown that this is due to genetic variations in humans which result in the olfactory-receptor genes that accentuates the soapy taste in some people.

But if you do not mind its taste and actually find it pleasing, you may be interested to know how to grow it for garnishing and enhancing your next dish!


  1. Select a fresh cilantro plant, with an intact stem and tap root.

  2. Cut off the leaf stalks, which can be used for consumption, but take care to keep about 2 to 3 cm of the leaf stalk intact and attached to the stem.

  3. Place the cut portion in a small glass or jar of water, with the water level just reaching the base of the leaf stalks.

  4. Position the glass or jar in a semi-shaded or brightly lit area and change the water regularly to prevent mosquito breeding or fouling of the water.

  5. New roots should start to grow and new leaves should start to emerge from the centre of the cut portion in about a week.

  6. Once roots and new leaves have emerged, you can transplant the stalk into potting soil to be grown in a semi-shaded location.


Spring Onion


Photo credit: Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh

 

Spring onions (Allium fistulosum or Allium cepa) are often added as a garnish to flavour soups and dishes. They are usually used in Asian cuisines, often with cilantro.

With its milder taste, the spring onion is perfect for palates that find other onions too strong in flavour. The plant is easy to grow as it sprouts very readily from the bulb, and requires semi-shade to full sun conditions to grow well. When grown in fertile soil and under sunny conditions, it may even reward you with blooms of white flowers!

Here’s what to do:


  1. Select a fresh bulb with an intact base ‘plate’ (stem).

  2. Place the bulb with the base in a shallow dish of water, covering only the base of the bulb.

  3. Position the dish in a semi-shaded or brightly lit area and the change the water regularly to prevent mosquito breeding or fouling of the water.

OR

Place the bulb with the base directly into loose, fertile soil.

  1. The bulb should begin to develop new roots and sprout new leaves in a few days.


Ginger


Photo credit: Boon Chih Min

 

Ginger (Zingiber officinaleis a very useful plant to have in a kitchen garden. The ginger root is used both in culinary recipes and for medicinal remedies. In culinary use, it adds flavour to soups and sir-fry dishes. It can also be used as a condiment and a garnish to accompany dishes. Dried and candied ginger can also be eaten as a snack or used in desserts.

In medicinal use, the ginger root is often made into a tea to relief stomach pains, colds or just general discomfort. The ginger plant can grow up to 1.8 m tall and prefers semi-shaded to sunny spots in the garden.


Here’s what to do:

  1. Select a young part of a fresh rhizome. This should have some nodules that are fresh or greenish in colour.

  2. Cut a 5 to 8 cm piece of the rhizome and leave it to air dry at room temperature on a piece of kitchen towel overnight. This is to reduce the chances of mould developing.

  3. After the piece of rhizome is relatively dried on the surface, plant it  about 1 to 2 cm deep into a pot of loose, fertile soil.

  4. The rhizome should develop roots and new shoots in about a week or two.


Turmeric

Photo credit: Jennie Tang

 

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizomes have been used traditionally in many Indian cuisines, lending its unique flavour and colour to dishes. The cross section of the rhizome is bright orange, much like a sweet potato when cut open.

Turmeric is used fresh or can be dried and grounded into powder for flavouring and colouring. Turmeric plants are compact, growing up to 1 m in height, and are best grown under semi-shaded to sunny conditions. They produce lovely blooms of white-yellow flowers when grown to maturity.


Here’s what to do:

  1. Select a fresh thick piece of rhizome. This should have some nodules that are fresh.

  2. Cut a 5 to 8 cm piece of the rhizome and leave it to air dry at room temperature on a piece of kitchen towel overnight. This is to reduce the chances of mould developing.

  3. After the piece of rhizome is relatively dried on the surface, plant it about 1 to 2 cm deep into a pot of loose, fertile soil.

  4. The rhizome should develop roots and new shoots in about a week or two.


Sand Ginger

Photo credit: Jennie Tang

 

The sand ginger (Kaempferia galangal) is a small herb that is mostly flat in its growth form. Unlike most other gingers which produce tall pseudostems of overlapping sheathed leaves, the sand ginger forms a rosette of two to five broadly oval leaves.

It grows best under semi-shaded conditions and is suitable for households with limited open spaces or do not receive bright sunlight throughout the day. The leaves are used in ulam to add flavour while the rhizomes are added to enhance curries.

The rhizome is also believed to help treat a variety of disorders such as inflammation, sprains, ulcers, high blood pressure, asthma, colds, coughs and sore throats!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Select a young part of a fresh rhizome. This should have some nodules that are fresh or greenish in colour.

  2. Cut a 3 to 5 cm piece of the rhizome and leave it to air dry at room temperature on a piece of kitchen towel overnight. This is to reduce the chances of mould developing.

  3. After the piece of rhizome is relatively dried on the surface, plant it about 1 to2 cm deep into a pot of loose, fertile soil.

  4. The rhizome should develop roots and new shoots in about a week or two.


Galangal

Photo credit: Shi Biying

 

Galangal (Alpinia galanga) is another member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), and its rhizomes are used often to add flavours to dishes such as laksa and curries.

The plant can grow quite large, about 3.5m tall. It grows best under semi-shade to sunny conditions.


Here’s what to do:

  1. Select a young part of a fresh rhizome. This should have some nodules that are fresh or greenish in colour.

  2. Cut a 5 to8 cm piece of the rhizome and leave it to air dry at room temperature on a piece of kitchen towel overnight. This is to reduce the chances of mould developing.

  3. After the piece of rhizome is relatively dried on the surface, plant it about 1 to 2 cm deep into a pot of loose, fertile soil.

  4. The rhizome should develop roots and new shoots in about a week or two.


Fingerroot 

Photo credit: Vicky Lim Yen Ngoh

 

The young rhizomes and young shoots of the Fingerroot (Boesenbergia rotunda) are cooked as vegetables or eaten raw. They are used to flavour food and pickles. Fingerroot is also used in traditional medicine as a remedy for coughs, mouth ulcers, and indigestion.

The fingerroot plant is a diminutive plant, growing to just 20 cm in height and bearing attractive pink flowers. It grows best under semi-shade to sunny conditions.


Here’s what to do:

  1. Select a young part of a fresh rhizome. This should have some nodules that are fresh or greenish in colour.

  2. Cut a 3 to5 cm piece of the rhizome and leave it to air dry at room temperature on a piece of kitchen towel overnight. This is to reduce the chances of mould developing.

  3. After the piece of rhizome is relatively dried on the surface, plant it about 1 to 2 cm deep into a pot of loose, fertile soil.

  4. The rhizome should develop roots and new shoots in about a week or two.


Garlic Chives 

Photo credit: Shi Biying

The leaves of the garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) are consumed either raw or cooked with dishes. They are most well-known in use for Chinese dumplings.

The garlic chive plant grows to only about 20 cm in height, with linear leaves. Its flowers are white and bloom in a ball shape inflorescence. The plant grows best under semi-shade to sunny conditions.

Here’s what to do:


  1. Select a fresh bulb with an intact base ‘plate’ (stem).

  2. Place the bulb with the base in a shallow dish of water, covering only the base of the bulb.

  3. Position the dish in a semi-shaded or brightly lit area and the change the water regularly to prevent mosquito breeding or fouling of the water.

OR

Place the bulb with the base directly into loose, fertile soil.

  1. The bulb should begin to develop new roots and sprout new leaves in a few days.


Gardening with Edibles
The City in Nature vision seeks to bring greenery closer to all residents. The community plays a key role in the ownership and stewardship for nature which will benefit our health and well-being.

NParks is partnering residents to make Singapore our City in Nature and spark a love for community gardening through the Gardening with Edibles initiative launched in June 2020. Under this programme, some 400,000 free seed packets have been distributed to interested members of the public. Relevant resources are also available online, to guide gardeners along the way.

Also, NParks is expanding the allotment gardening scheme and the Community in Bloom programme, to welcome even more residents into the gardening family.

The Gardening with Edibles initiative is aligned with Singapore’s national strategy to strengthen our food resilience. The “30 by 30” goal, led by the Singapore Food Agency, aims to produce 30% of Singapore’s nutritional needs locally by the year 2030. The programme is jointly funded by founding partners DBS Bank and Tote Board through the Garden City Fund.

Learning More
If you are a gardening newbie, visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube Channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It covers topics ranging from types of soil needed for your garden and how to plant, harvest and even cook your edibles. 

 

For more information about the flora and fauna found in Singapore, please visit Flora and Fauna Web.


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