Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Grow Your Own Indonesian Herbs

Today I took a little trip to the Asian supermarket. As always it is filled with exotic delights especially the fruit and veg section. Here you buy lemongrass stalks by the dozen and the pieces of ginger are plump and as big as a large hand. I also picked up some pandan leaves to flavour some black rice with. Ignorantly I thought pandan leaves were just banana leaves but they are actually a completely different genus, the one you flavour your food with is called Pandanus amaryllifolius. What better way to enjoy these goodies than by eating some of it and trying to grow the leftovers (a nice and cheap way to get exotic plants too).

Lemongrass is something I have grown before and is extremely easy. Just stick a couple of stalks in a glass with a layer of water. Change the water daily (or when you remember) and just watch the roots sprout. When you are happy with the root growth just stick it in a pot with some good soil and put in a nice sheltered spot outside (I am anticipating these to root really well within three weeks and after that it should be warm enough outside).

Pandan on the other hand I haven't grown. The Internet is not very forthcoming with how to grow these cuttings so I am trying two different methods. One plant I stuck in one of the seedling modules and the other in a layer of water (like the lemongrass). Let's hope at least one of them roots. Again if rooted they will be planted in good soil and put in a warm sheltered position in the garden.

I am going to need a piece of ginger tonight so I am not going to be planting the whole rhizome. As you can see there are some good fat growhtpoints at the top. First I will slice of the ginger I need keeping the best growthpoints conserved. 

This is a large enough piece to get off to a good growing start. I am not planting this immediately but first soaking it in water for 24 hours. Not that this piece is particularly dessicated but some supermarkets treat ginger with growth retardants that are naturally better soaked away.

Normally you would plant ginger a bit like you plant bearded iris, letting it lay on it's side exposing the top  of the rhizome. However with this piece I am going to plant it with the growthpoints pointing upwards leaving the very tip of them exposed, this way I can get a clear view at how it is growing.

This way I'll have some lovely fragrant leaves in the garden. I must tell you I probably will not be concerned with keeping these through next winter (maybe the pandan, I am not sure yet). I think it likely I will just harvest the ginger, and dry the lemongrass (pandan leaves freeze really well). So no room will be spend keeping them alive and for a couple of euros you can just restart this process next spring!


Ms Dreamer said...


Any update on which of your method to grow pandan root work? I'm looking to grow my own from the leaves I bought at the supermarket, but they have no roots. Please advise. Thanks!

Tessa Leonie said...

Hi Ms Dreamer, I found it quite difficult to get roots on the pandan leaves. It is possible though I got roots on one of the bunches eventually but the plant did not really thrive (by the time it had roots it was already almost winter). If your leaves are comparable to the bunch in the picture it can be done. In the end I found a plant for sale and that plant is actually quite easy. It managed to survive the winter indoors with only a little water.