I freaking love growing plants in my kitchen using water propagation. It gives me a little dose of omg look how cool and cute and magical this is! daily dopamine until I lose interest, it dies and it’s not a big deal so I toss them and start over.
Not only do I get to see the cool sciency goodness happening, but I get to be around green growing things, which is good for my mental health, I get to feel some pride in helping a plant grow awesome bomb-ass roots and leaves, AND my family gets to have something fresh on tap that I grew, even if it’s just some green onions or garlic shoots in a salad, which makes me feel good about myself as a mother and a wife.
Another reason I prefer water propagation over growing them in pots is it’s fast, requires no investment (like soil and fertilizer), and if it dies, or I forget to replace the water and it gets gross, I can just throw it away and start a new plant. It’s something I find satisfying, but I’m not giving it my blood, sweat, or tears, as if I were tending a garden or flowers.
Once your water-propagated plant has grown strong roots, you could transfer it to a pot with nutrient-rich soil for it to grow into its best self, but I rarely get that far, that isn’t what it’s about for me. I’d consider what I end up with growing, edible decorations. I like to see the roots grow and get wild and the leaves spread and get lush. On occasion, I will put a plant baby in the soil, but most things I’ve planted have died. Living next to the ocean makes it a little difficult to grow outside, which isn’t much motivation to put in the work and money to take it to that next step.
My latest plant experiment was a hunk of cabbage root, I placed a few toothpicks in the bit that you normally toss and placed it on top of an old glass coffee jar filled with water. In just a few days there were little buds and roots growing and it’s become one of my favorite propagation due to its speed and luscious-ass leaves, which are actually quite tender and tasty. It obviously isn’t going to produce enough to make coleslaw for fish tacos, but it’s a nice garnish and makes my kitchen window look fabulous.
It’s super-duper easy to propagate onions, garlic, cabbage, carrot leaves, celery, bok choy, and more, just make sure you keep the root area covered in water and replace the water every couple of days.
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Nikki is a photographer, writer, artist, and advocate of radical self-love. She writes about mental health, gaming, sex, and inclusivity.