Monday, June 11, 2007

My Indoor Winter Garden

After last summer's near failure at the old apartment, we started anew and a bit late in our new place--a townhouse. We moved in at the end of last July and traveled for most of August. Alas, we didn't get to plant anything until Labor Day! We tried the same stuff (basil, cilantro, and rosemary, but no spinach) in the same small window box, only this time we started outside. Things went a little better, but it started to get cold before anything was harvestable.

One mistake we made was that the dirt didn't come up high enough in the box. We think there was too much shade for the wee germs to get a good start. This year we made sure to have the dirt near the top of the box.

We brought things inside when it started to get cold and put the box at the floor of the door to our southward facing patio. Things were growing a little leggy. As the days grew shorter, we caved and bought a grow light. Then everyone was happy and reaching for the sky. Instead of wasting power, we decided to supplement the natural light by extending the light hours using a timer. The light came on about an hour or so before sunrise and went off around 8 a.m. Then it would come back on about an hour before sunset and stay on for another couple of hours. It worked great, though the herbs didn't have the best start.

Have you had any success with growing herbs indoors over winter? Did you use a grow light? How many hours of grow-light light did your herbs get each day?

Again, the basil and cilantro had the best germination rate and the fastest growth. We thought the rosemary was a failure, with only three seeds germinating out of about 12. Plus, the little rosemary stayed small FOREVER! I didn't understand it, but kept hope alive.

When spring came around, we scrapped whatever basil we still had. The cilantro was well past done around the holidays. We transplanted the tiny three rosemaries to a small pot (about 4-inch diameter). The root structure was virtually non-existent. Only one had a couple pairs of actual rosemary leaves. The others just had two little pairs of round leaves. Can you believe it, after six months since planting the seeds?! I thought for sure they were goners. Scientists we are, we were up for the trial and expected error.

Much to our surprise, the wee rosemaries started to grow in their new pot. When our next crop of seeds for the new season were ready to move outside, we moved the now slightly bigger rosemaries outside. They took off immediately! It was only a month before the roots were growing out the bottom of the pot. We happily re-potted the success to a larger pot. I couldn't believe it.

And now look at them, nine months after seeding:

18 comments:

C Smith said...

Nice post. Do you think that tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli etc could be grown in winter?

I have a East facing apartment, which does get a reasonable amount of light and I am keen to try a winter garden.

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