Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Indoor Herb Gardening For Canadians

If nothing else we Canadians are hardy and masters at improvising. So while our garden’s lay frozen under the snow we can still savour the flavour of our fresh garden herbs by growing them indoors over the winter months.

There are many herbs that will grow well indoors. Listed below are several good choices: Basil, Parsley Dill, Oregano, Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Chives, Chamomile, Fennel, Lavender, Angelica, Geranium

What you will need:
A sunny location
• Healthy herbs or seeds
• Good quality compost
• Suitable containers

A Sunny Location:
The key to successful herb gardening is in finding a sunny, well lit spot in which to grow your herb garden. South facing window sills are usually ideal, but any location that receives plenty of light throughout the day will do. Try to avoid north facing windows because it is unlikely the plants will receive enough light to grow properly. If your home is like mine with roof over-hangs and neighbouring homes that block allot of natural light then you may need to invest in a grow light. This can be a relatively easy and affordable solution.

Healthy Herbs or Seeds:
Whether you have brought your herbs in from your outdoor garden or are purchasing seed packs or already started herbs it is important to choose only healthy plants. Do not use expired seed packs. Your indoor herbs are already at a disadvantage trying to grow in the dark dry conditions that most homes provide. Staring off with weak plants will rarely yield healthy productive herbs.

Good Quality Compost:
Purchase a good all purpose compost in which to grow your herbs or top each of your plants with at least 1” of this wonderful stuff. Choosing quality compost is important as your herbs will be relying on it for nutrition for some time. I always buy an extra bag of compost in the fall for such uses but if you find yourself struggling to find a place that sells compost in the winter I have on occasion run across it at Canadian Tire, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. If your local garden nursery stays open through the winter months you may find some there as well.

Suitable Containers:
Almost any kind of container is suitable for growing herbs, provided there is amply drainage. If you have your mind set on a special container that does not have drainage holes you can either add them or use the container as a decorative sleeve. To do this add a layer of crushed pebbles to the bottom of your decorative container then insert your potted plant into this decorative sleeve.

Caring For Your Indoor Herb Garden
Once you have your containers all potted up with your collection of savoury herbs you will need to water your plants regularly.  Be very careful not to over-water, this is the main cause of death for most indoor plants. No more than once a week should be sufficient, sometimes even less than that. Before you water check the compost, if it still feels moist hold off on the water and check again the next day.

If you have used a good quality compost, and your winter is relatively short you will probably only need to fertilize your plants once. For longer winter seasons it may be a good idea to use the slow release pellets you can buy in garden centers.

All that is left now is to get cooking and to savour the flavour and fresh aroma of your freshly grown herbs.

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