7 Easy Steps – Grow Herbs Inside During Winter.

At Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs we utilize our conservatory {sun room} to harbor tender herbs during the winter months. It’s super easy to grow herbs indoors. Don’t have a sunroom or conservatory? No worries. If you can grow herbs outdoors, you can grow them indoors this winter, just follow these simple guidelines:
herbs on a windowsill, Gardenista Houseplants Photo Gallery
1. Beat the frost. Aim to dig and pot your plants at least a few weeks before your first expected frost. Better yet: Bring herbs indoors when outdoor daytime temperatures are 65 to 70 degrees about the same as indoor temperatures.
2. Choose the right pot. Choose a container slightly larger than the root ball of the plant, or use a large window box-style container to hold several smaller herbs. Plastic pots are lighter and more portable than terracotta; they also retain water better than unglazed clay pots. Remember that plants need less water in winter, however. If your home tends to be warm and dry, choose plastic pots; if it’s cool and humid, terracotta could be a better choice. Be sure any pot you use has drainage holes.
3. Provide a good mix. Use a good-quality commercial potting mix or a homemade blend of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss but never garden soil. Garden soil often is too heavy, drains poorly and can harbor insects, disease pathogens or weed seeds. Moisten the mix before you pot your plants.
4. Spray away insect pests. Don’t risk bringing pests indoors. After potting garden herbs, spray them thoroughly with a soap-based spray to keep scale, mealy bugs, spider mites and other common pests from hitching a ride inside. We make a preventive spray of soap, garlic, and chiles. {Recipe to follow}.
5. Take time to trim. Now is also a good time to give plants a light “haircut”-trim back the top third of plants to encourage strong new growth, and to help compensate for root loss.
6. Move gradually. Your plants will barely notice the change if they have time to adjust gradually to their new conditions. Just as plants benefit from “hardening off” {gradual acclimation} in spring, they do better with a similar but reverse process in fall. If possible, start by moving them to a bright but sheltered location outdoors, such as beneath a tree, for a week before moving them indoors.
7. Head south. For best results, replicate outdoor growing conditions as much as possible. Choose a bright, south-facing window; or place plants 4 inches below a fluorescent light fixture. Avoid a location directly adjacent to a heat source, which can dry soil and stress plants.

Indoors, prostrate rosemary bears lovely blue flowers in late winter. Use the fragrant, evergreen foliage to flavor vegetables or poultry.

rosemary with blooms

Garlic and Chile Soap Spray:

We have been making this Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray for more than 20 years. In late summer, we routinely spray this on plants before bringing them indoors for winter. We add 10 drops cinnamon, vetiver or eucalyptus essential oil when we make it.

• 10 to 12 large cloves garlic
• 4 to 6 hot chile peppers, dried or fresh
• Generous 2 cups water
• 1 tablespoon liquid castile soap
• 10 drops cinnamon, vetiver or eucalyptus essential oil, optional
1. Put garlic, chiles and water into a blender and puree contents until foamy.
2. Let mixture stand at least 2 hours or overnight. When mixture settles, you will have a coral-colored liquid with sediment at the bottom.
3. Pour through a strainer lined with fine cheesecloth (or through a coffee filter or jelly bag) to remove particles that could block the sprayer valve.
4. Pour concentrate into a jar with a plastic lid (not metal), add soap, stir, and label.
5. Store in a cool, dark place until needed, up to a few months. For a 1-quart or 1-liter spray bottle, use 2 tablespoons concentrate and fill the rest of the bottle with water.
6. Spray plants late in the day, so the hot sun can’t burn the plants. Cover the top and bottom of leaves. Reapply Garlic and Chile Insecticidal Soap Spray as often as needed, but allow several days between applications.

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