Monday, September 28, 2009

Moving and Growing Herbs Indoors

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. ~Mirabel Osler

There is a process for moving your herbs indoors if you want them to grow well. First, gradually move your herbs indoors for a few hours at a time. A sheltered, shady deck or porch will work too at first. I don't have a lot of window space so I only move a few each season. You are "acclimatizing" the herbs to their new location by doing it this way. After they are on the porch for a few days I then start moving them indoors gradually.

Herbs grown indoors will need the brightest window you can put them in front of or you can use fluorescent lights. Remember, they love full sun outside, so they need bright light indoors. When you place herbs on a sunny window ledge or shelf be sure to turn them a few times a week, so they don't "lean" towards the sun. If they become leggy then trim them evenly all around. (And of course use the cuttings in your cooking.) Water your indoor herbs only when the soil is dry; using enough water so that a little bit drains out the bottom of the pot. BUT don't over water, this will rot the roots. This is especially important with rosemary. ONLY water when the soil has dried-the leaves will turn brown if it's kept too moist.

When you are potting up herbs for indoors try adding some gravel to the bottom of the pot to help with drainage, and a handful of sand to the potting soil too. It's also beneficial if you can add a teaspoonful of lime to the soil mix (per 5 inch pot) to sweeten it BUT if you don't have any on hand don't buy a large bag just for this. Ask around, maybe someone you know will have some they are using in a garden or lawn. Also, read your bag of potting soil-some do include lime.

It's important that your herbs aren't pot bound, but at the same time you don't want the pot too large. You want the roots "comfortable" but not smashed up against the pot trying to get out.

Your herbs should be brought indoors before frost, with the exception of chives, tarragon and mint. Allow them to remain outdoors for a light frost, then bring them indoors. Once the herbs are indoors, you'll have to watch for pests like aphids, spider mites, and white flies. Remember, you don't want to use any chemicals on your herbs. Try natural sprays if it becomes necessary. Also, try to keep the plants away from cold drafts or direct heat from a vent. In other words, you want to keep the temperature as even as possible.

Winter can be a dreary time for gardeners, especially in cold climates, but the smell and taste of fresh herbs is certainly a boost on cold, snowy days!

Check out OFL for good indoor herb choices plus tips on care.


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