Bringing Your Green Thumb Indoors
Growing your own herbs indoors is a great way to keep your green thumb busy over the winter months, as well as being able to enjoy fresh homegrown herbs in your favourite recipes!
It is actually quite easy to create your own little indoor herb garden. There are a few basic things that are needed to grow herbs successfully indoors. Herbs as with all plants require lots of light, a good quality potting soil, the right amount of moisture and fertilizer.
Herbs need lots of light. They need at least 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight which can be a challenge as we enter into winter when we have such short days.
Place plants in a south facing window, or place them under grow lights or florescent lights. If plants do not receive enough light they will become leggy and unhealthy. It is also important to turn your plants every few days if they are in a window so that they receive even light, which will result in even growth. If you don’t turn your plants you will notice that they will grow lopsided.
Water is needed to keep plants growing. More plants are killed by overwatering than by under watering. Generally, when watering plants, give them a good thorough watering, using room temperature water, remove excess water after 20 minutes, and then wait to water them again until the soil is dry to the touch.
A good quality indoor potting soil is very important in growing healthy herbs, and so is feeding the herbs a well balanced fertilizer such as 20-20-20 every month.
Herbs can be started by seed or be purchased as plants. There are some herb plants available at the garden centre such as Bay leaf, Parsley, Oregano, Stevia, Tarragon, Savoury, Lemongrass, Coriander, and Thyme which work well for indoor growing.
Starting herbs from seed can be easily done. Use a starter mix which is light so that it is easy for young seedlings to come through the soil. Place the moistened starter mix in clean seed trays. Sow the seed, following the directions given on the package. After the seed has been sown, cover the seed tray with a plastic dome and place it in a warm area of the home. As soon as the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic dome. It is important that the young seedlings receive lots of light so placing them under a light or putting in a south facing window would work best. Fertilize the young seedlings with a plant starter fertilizer such as 10-52-10 and then later switch to 20-20-20. When the seedlings have their true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into pots. Pots should be at least 15 cm wide and 20-25 cm deep.
As the herbs grow they can be harvested. Pinching out the grow tips will create bushy plants and the pinched out tips can be eaten. When pinching the tips, snip just above the leaf nodes as this is where the new branches will break out. When you are harvesting herbs, don’t remove more than one-third of the plant.
If you grew herbs outdoors over the summer months, you can bring them indoors for the winter months. If they were grown in containers it is easy to bring them in, and if they were grown in the garden, dig up the plant or part of the plant, place it in a container, and then bring it indoors. Some herbs such as dill and basil are annuals and only live one season so these will eventually need to be re seeded.
The more popular herbs to grow in pots on your window ledge include Basil, Bay, Cilantro, Parsley, Chives, Lavender, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme. If you plan to grow a few different herbs in one container, choose herbs that have the same growing needs.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George:
-Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
-Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road ( closed for the season)