In addition to their traditional use for health and nutrition, these herbs play an important role in pest control in agroecological gardens. We share the easiest techniques to get new plants by sowing, cutting and separating the root balls.
Aromatic plants are all plant species that have an aroma and/or flavor that makes them useful. This property is due to its volatile components or fractions chemically called “essences” or “essential oils”, which are present in the leaves, stems, bulbs, rhizomes, roots, flowers, seeds and fruits. Most of these herbs also have medicinal properties.
In the agro-ecological garden, its functions are multiple. On the one hand, they contribute to biodiversity and make the garden a balanced natural system where vegetables coexist harmoniously with flowers and herbs.
In addition, the introduction of this type of plants involves a preventive measure against pests and diseases. It is that the diversity of its aromas and colors affects the senses of insects and sows confusion, making it difficult to locate their favorite vegetable. Some herbs also have a repellent action, such as wormwood, mint and rosemary.
Its use in the garden is a common agricultural practice to attract beneficial insects (parsley and coriander, among others), or to serve as “trap plants”. For example, basil is often strategically intercropped between crops to attract aphids and other virus-carrying insects so they don’t attack the vegetables.
They can also be used for curative or preventive purposes of diseases, by the application of purines, extracts and other homemade preparations obtained by decoction, maceration or infusion of leaves, stems and/or flowers, depending on the case.
Regarding their role in the home and the environment, this type of plant offers multiple resources: from seasoning that enhances the flavor and aroma of meals on the daily table, to the possibility of preparing teas, essences, perfumes, creams, ointments and other resources. for health care.
What techniques are used for their multiplication?
There are two types of multiplication: sexual, which is done by means of seeds, and asexual, which is done by means of any vegetative part of the plant: cuttings, layering, division of bushes, etc. As a basic rule for each of them, you should always choose the plant that has the best qualities in terms of leaf size, fragrance and resistance to diseases and pests.
The most common species that can be propagated by seed are parsley, fennel, basil, coriander and mint, among others.
On the other hand, in the case of oregano, tarragon and wormwood, the indicated practice is the division of clumps, which consists in obtaining several plants from an adult plant or mother plant, separating it into pieces with roots, stems and leaves. To do this, the aerial part and the roots are cut off before planting, that is, the terminal end is cut off from each small plant, leaving only a few centimeters of leaves. The roots are also cut a little, to alleviate the stress caused by the division.
Another way to propagate plants asexually is to cut propagation. This requires that the place be protected from the sun and low temperatures, and that the environment be warm, with high humidity, so that the leaves and young shoots do not dehydrate prematurely.
Within the propagation by cuttings, three types can be distinguished according to the species:
To reproduce wormwood, basil, tarragon, lavender, oregano and sage, segments or cuttings are needed, which are the stems of new, still tender shoots. The main thing is to cut segments about 10-15 cm long and 4-5 mm in diameter, from which we remove the basal leaves, leaving only 2-3 terminal ones.
In the case of lavender, oregano, rosemary and thyme, multiplication takes place both in autumn and in early spring by cuttings, i.e. the semi-woody stems which have grown during the winter. These are cut from 12 to 15 cm and the basal leaves are taken from 2/3 of the length, part of which is then immersed in water for 48 hours to eliminate the hormone that prevents rooting.
Rosemary and lavender can also be propagated by cuttings. These are obtained from fragments of stems and branches of the year, 15 to 40 cm long, which are cut in late autumn after the first frosts. They take root throughout the winter and are transplanted to the final place the following year. To do this, the terminal end is cut off at a height of 15 cm. As far as possible, it should be semi-woody, of the year and without flowers. It is recommended to immerse the third that will go underground for 48 hours in running water, to wash the surface where the leaves were and wash away the hormone that prevents rooting. Thereafter, the stakes will be placed vertically in the pots.
For herbs such as mint, tarragon and pennyroyal, propagation is by runners: these are stems that grow below and above the soil surface and form roots at every point of contact with the ground . The procedure is as follows: they are separated from a vigorous plant and planted at a depth of about 5-10 cm. By burying them, they emit new roots and shoots, from which new plants can be obtained.
Finally, there is another type of multiplication, typical of saffron and ginger. These are obtained from rhizomes or bulbs, which are modified stems that grow below the surface of the soil. Pieces of the rhizome of the mother plant are cut and placed in pots, boxes or the place intended for the development of new plants.