Indoor Gardening Article
Indoor Herbal Gardening
People all over the world have been gathering and cultivating herbs for thousands of years. They have used them to flavour food, for medicinal purposes, because they smell nice and for decoration. Some people have even believed certain herbs have magical qualities. Fortunately, you can grow these versatile plants indoors as well as outside. Indoor herbal gardening, however, has special requirements. For one thing, the plants must grow in containers.
Light is the most important ingredient for indoor herbal gardening. If you have a sunroom or a greenhouse window, you can grow just about any kind of herb. They need no more than six hours of direct sunlight a day. If you must use artificial light, you can buy fluorescent lighting systems specially designed for indoor herbal gardening, or you can rig up your own combination of warm white and cool white fluorescent tubes. Make the shelves that hold the lights of the plants adjustable so they can be moved as the plants grow. The plant tips should always be five or six inches below the tubes. The plants require fourteen to sixteen hours of artificial light a day.
Use porous soil for indoor herbal gardening. It allows easy air circulation, holds water well but drains easily. A good commercial potting soil is fine, but you can cut down on expenses by making your own. To make two bushels of potting soil for indoor herbal gardening, mix one bushel of milled sphagnum peat moss, one bushel of horticultural grade perlite, ten tablespoons of ground limestone, five tablespoons of single superphosphate, two tablespoons of potassium nitrate and one teaspoon of iron chelate.
Plants cultivated by indoor herbal gardening do not have the deep root systems of plants in outdoor gardens, so the soil must be kept moist, even for the hardiest varieties like rosemary and sage. Keep the soil moist, but do not over-water it. If you must use a heavy garden soil, use a mulch to keep the surface from caking.
If you use a commercial potting soil for indoor herbal gardening, read the package to see if it already has nutrients added. If it has not, or if your soil has become worn out, the leaves on your herbs will turn yellow and growth will slow. You will now have to use fertilizer. Follow label instructions, and start by using only half the recommended strength to see if that works. The oils of over-fertilized herbs lose flavour and fragrance.
Herbs are generally not very susceptible to pests, but your indoor herbs might be targeted by mealybugs or whiteflies. If you see these pests on your plants, don't panic. Rub them away with cotton swabs or just your finger. If the infestation is large, rinse it away with slightly soapy water. Cut off infected stems. Your indoor herbal garden will quickly recover.