The summer growing season is now over and I have cleaned up the garden area.  And yes, I was looking forward to a restful fall/winter where I could enjoy the various fruits of my labor.  This week I sat down and went through my seed collection to discard the empty packages and to determine what was still good for next year.  I cleaned and prepped all of my hand tools.  And I washed out the now empty pots and prepared them for storage.  For a brief moment I was all right…sitting back and reflecting on what a success this year’s garden was, while looking ahead to next year.  Then it hit me…a tremendous void that grew larger by the minute…by the hour and escalated by the day.

You probably don’t know that there are 86,400 seconds in a day.  Which equates to 1,440 minutes.  So in the typical 30-day month this means that there are 2,592,000 seconds or 43,200 minutes or 720 hours.  So let’s take a look at what this means by the numbers:

Month                         Seconds                  Minutes                        Hours

November                   2,592,000                    43,200                           720

December                  2,678,400                    44,640                            744

January                      2,678,400                    44,640                            744

February*                   2,505,600                    41,760                             696

March                        2,678,400                    44,640                             744

Total                        13,132,800                    218,880                                3,648

*Leap Year/29 days

There’s 13,132,800 seconds or 218,880 minutes or 3,648 hours or 152 days or 5 months before I can start the process of planting something in the ground again.  WHAT TO DO…WHAT TO DO…WHAT TO DO!?!?!

Well let me tell you what I’m a gonna do!  I ain’t gonna wait until April to plant no stinkin’ seeds.  I’ve got a “garden jones” and I am  “jonesing” bad!  Can’t wait…no sir…no ma’am…no how!  NO KIDDING!

I am going to grow herbs indoors!  That’s right indoors!  I will deal with my habit by growing herbs that I will be able to use in the kitchen to give my meals that “just-picked” taste.  So while the snow is drifting up against the windows, I will be growing herbs right on my windowsills.  And for those of you that might be interested, I am going to provide you with a few smart tips and techniques* you can use to keep them all healthy and happy until you, like me, can plant outside again.

Basil

You can start Basil from seeds and place the pots in a south-facing window.  Basil likes a lot of sun and warmth.

Bay

A perennial that grows well in the pot in an east- or west-facing window.  Be sure you don’t crowd the plant, as it needs good air circulation to remain healthy

Chervil

Start Chervil seeds in late summer (I should have started this one earlier I guess).  It grows well in low light but needs temperatures between 65 degrees F and 70 degrees F to thrive.

Chives

Dig up a clump of Chives from your garden (this I can still do) at the end of the growing season and pot it up.  Leave the pot outside until the leaves die back.  In early winter, move the pot to your coolest indoor spot (such as a basement) for a few days, then finally to your brightest window.

Oregano

 

Your best bet is to start with a tip cutting from an outdoor Oregano plant.  Place the pot in a south-facing window.

Parsley

You can start this herb from seeds or dig up a clump from your garden at the end of the season.  Parsley likes full sun, but will grow slowly in an east- or west-facing window.

Rosemary

 

Start with a cutting of Rosemary, and keep it in moist soil-less mix until it roots.  It grows best in a south-facing window.

Sage

Take a tip cutting from an outdoor plant to start an indoor Sage.  It tolerates dry, indoor air well, but it needs the strong sun it will get in a south-facing window.

Tarragon

A dormant period in late fall or early winter is essential for Tarragon to grow indoors.  Pot up a mature plant from your outdoor garden and leave it outside until the leaves die back.  Bring it to your coolest indoor spot for a few days, then place it in a south-facing window for as much sun as possible.  Feed well with an organic liquid fertilizer.

Thyme

You can start Thyme indoors either by rooting a soft tip cutting or by digging up and potting an outdoor plant.  Thyme likes full sun but will grow in an east- or west-facing window.

 

Rooting a Cutting

Many herbs – including oregano, thyme, rosemary, and sage – are best propagated for indoor growing by taking a cutting from an existing outdoor plant.  To do it, snip off a 4-inch section, measured back from the tip.  Strip off the lower leaves and stick the stem into a moist soil-less mix, such as perlite and/or vermiculite.  To ensure good humidity, cover with glass or clear plastic, and keep the growing medium-moist.

 

Water, Light and Temperature

Most herbs like to be well watered but don’t like wet feet.  That’s why good drainage is important.  Water when the top of the container feels dry, or learn to judge the moisture in the soil by the weight of the pot.  Add sand or vermiculite to the potting soil to ensure good drainage.

An herb in a clay pot in a south-facing window will need more water than one in a plastic pot in an east- or west-facing window.  If the light is low, keep the temperature low as well

 

Pest Prevention

Choose the soil for your indoor herbs carefully.  A good commercial potting soil is fine, or for a deluxe mix, blend one part potting soil with one part vermiculite, perlite, or sand (or a mixture of all three).

Resist the temptation to use disease- and pest-prone garden soil.  When you pot up garden-grown plants, remove as much of the garden soil as possible without damaging the roots.

Separate outdoor transplants from your other houseplants while you acclimate them to being indoors.  If you see insects on a plant during this “quarantine,” leave them outdoors.

If, despite such defenses, your indoor plants do come under insect attack, help the herbs stay healthy by providing the correct mix of light and temperature, and give them regular baths.  A plant weakened by hot, dry indoor conditions is even more susceptible to spider mites, whitefly, or aphid damage than a healthy one.

If you choose to use soap sprays to control these pests, remember that the wet spray must come in direct contact with the insect to be effective.  Spray in the evening (and never in bright sunlight) to prevent rapid drying, and wash off the residues the next day (or before eating the leaves).  Don’t spray very young seedlings with soap!

 

For more information about the material presented here, please go to www.organicgardening.com.  I encourage you to sign up for their newsletter where you will get articles like this and a whole lot more.  There is no better source for organic gardening information that Organic Gardening!

 

 

*Original Content by Organic Gardening Magazine/Newsletter
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