Wild Things…
Indoor Herb Garden
by Karen Vizzi
    The outside garden may be winding down but you can still preserve some of the beauty of summer. Take cuttings of your herbs and create a new garden inside on a sunny windowsill.
     Not every herb makes a good candidate 
but some that do well are basil, thyme, mints, oregano and sage. A sunny, south-facing window is a must for an indoor herb garden, so make sure you can provide these ideal conditions before you begin.
    To ensure successful cuttings, take a 3 to 4 inch stem section from the outermost (fleshy) growth of the plant. Avoid any stems that are too stiff or woody. Strip off the bottom leaves so that half of the stem is bare. These herbs will root easily if placed in a glass of water. However, the roots that develop in water are not the same as the roots that develop in soil, and some cuttings will not survive the transplant into soil. I always take three cuttings for every one plant I want to flourish. An alternate method is to root the cuttings in damp sand or soil-less mix. With this method, they do produce necessary “feeder” roots and will have a better chance of thriving. Keep your cuttings out of direct sun until they form roots.
    Once roots have developed, transplant into a small pot of soil. If the pot is too large, the plants may become waterlogged and will not thrive. If you use the water rooting method, you will see the root system develop. If using sand or soil-less mix, tug lightly on the plant after about 2 weeks. If you feel resistance, chances are a root system has formed. Now they are ready for direct sun.
    But no matter how much sun your indoor herb garden receives, eventually these plants will get leggy. This is just their way of reaching for more light…light they cannot get through panes of glass. When this happens, it’s time to pinch out the leggy tips. This pruning is good for the plant and makes it bushier. Also, the “pinchings” are a great source of herbs for cooking.
    Some herbs grown indoors are susceptible to attacks by whitefly and other critters. I keep them under control with a small mister bottle of one part rubbing alcohol and three parts water. The alcohol will dehydrate soft-bodied insects and is a much safer control than commercial pesticide. I use a small amount of fish emulsion (fertilizer) once a month, and I keep flowers from developing by pinching them off. Remember that once an herb begins to flower, all the energy goes to the bud and the leaves lose flavor. Basil is notorious for frequent flowering so keep your eye on it.
    Some annual herbs like basil and dill will just die off after a while, according to their life cycle. These are easily re-started from seed inside at any time of year as long as the light they grow in is strong enough.

 
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