Live It Up - Is Spring on Your Mind?
Are you missing the fresh taste of herbs and vegetables right out of the garden? If you have already enjoyed harvesting your own indoor bounty, here are some hints to encourage your neighbors on how to do the same. Start preparing now: spring is coming. Really!
Forget about space and size concerns. The more important factors are sunlight, soil, water, plant food, and container weights.
- Most flowering plants and fruits require up to eight hours a day of sunlight. However, salad greens and some herbs do fine with less. They can also use a grow light, no matter the weather.
- Soil provides nutrients and needs to contain space for air so that it won’t compact and prevent liquids from flowing through. Instead of garden soil, use potting mixes that are lighter, more sterile, and fluffy.
- Indoor plants in pots need a lot of water so be close to a source. Sometimes, they are thirsty several times a day. Humidity is important, too, especially when the heat is on. Try spritzing with a fine mist and/or placing a tray of water near the heat.
- Herbs: It’s wonderful to have mint, chives, parsley, lavender, basil, and thyme close by when cooking.
- Salad Greens: Lettuce, spinach, and arugula are quick growing, with shallow roots. Just be sure they get enough water.
- Tomatoes: Ah, to me, there is nothing tastier than a juicy, sweet, home-grown tomato. Use a pot at least 30” in diameter, or experiment with hanging baskets.
- Peppers: The hot ones grow better in containers than the sweet ones and can produce all year
- Strawberries: Ummm, so good and pretty too. They need at least a foot of soil and six hours of sunlight.
- Lemons: Meyer lemons do well indoors if they have six to eight hours of sun and some humidity. Protect areas underneath the dwarf citrus as they give off a sticky sap. Sprinkle lemon on food and in your water to add a healthy alkaline.
Ridding pests and diseases: There are no natural predators for insects indoors so monitor them closely. These problems have a way of finding plants no matter where they are grown. Study up on possible remedies. If there is a problem, move that plant away from the other plants untilit is remedied.
Watering: The soil in containers dries out quickly. Test the soil by poking a finger an inch or two below the soil surface. If it feels dry, the plant needs to be watered. Even if a garden is exposed to rain, it probably will not be enough water. The warmer the weather and the more the plant roots fill out, the quicker the containers will dry out.
Feeding: Feed plants on a regular schedule, typically every other week. The easiest is a water-soluble fertilizer added when watering.
Harvesting: Don’t be shy. Go for it. The more plants are harvested the more they will bear.
Encourage your neighbors to use their imagination and creativity. They may wish to start slowly to test their green thumbs and then increasingly enjoy the fruits of their labor.