Tips for Growing Kales indoors
This is probably the most essential requirement for success if you want to grow herbs or any other plants indoors and in fact in most instances people neglect to provide their plants with adequate light. The consensus is that the optimal hours of daily light is between six and eight. Put your plants in a room with a window that faces in a south-western direction.
In case that you do not have a location with adequate light for your plants, there are other solutions. Make use of reflector lights that contain compact fluorescent bulbs. Place them within 4 to 6 inches of your plants. You can also purchase light fixtures which can be mounted underneath your kitchen cabinet so that you can place your herbs on a counter. Just remember that no plant can thrive without adequate light.
If brown spots appear on the leaves, it may be an indication that the foliage is receiving too much bright light and leaves are burning. However, this only happens in very few instances. A sure sign that your plants are not receiving adequate light is when they grow long stems with fewer leaves. They are stretching towards the light source because they are not receiving enough light. In this case you have to supply additional light or else move your plants to an area that has adequate natural light.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when attempting to grow an indoor herb garden is overwatering. Herbs are not overly fond of moisture.
So, how do you know when to give your herbs water? Watch your plants closely; they will tell you in their own way when they feel thirsty. You will quickly learn to read the signs they give you. The general rule is to allow them to dry out sufficiently and this may take anything from three or more days to more than a week. Press your finger into the soil up to your knuckle level to feel the moisture level around the root system. Make notes on each different kind of herb plant; counting the days between the need for more water and then stick to a consistent watering schedule. Herbs are not fond of too much water but they thrive on a consistent system of watering.
Which is the best way to water your plants? Place your plants in a sink. Do not allow water to fall on the leaves but rather water them around the stems. Allow the water to soak through and soak a second time. As soon as they have dried completely you can place them back on their saucers. A good idea is to do the watering before work, allow them to drain completely during the day and put them back after work. The plant’s roots will rot very quickly if you leave any stagnant water in their saucers.
Yellow leaves are usually an indication of overwatering, not under-watering. Too much moisture will rot the roots of the plant preventing it from being able to absorb the necessary moisture and the leaves will start to wilt. Many people make the mistake of giving their plants more water when it desiccates. Rather check the soil, and then examine the bottom of the pot to find out whether is it dry or wet before doing anything.
Pots and Containers
The most important rule about any pot is that it must have enough drainage holes in the bottom.
The best material for your containers is terra cotta since it allows for breathing. Any material can be used for the saucer as long as it lends protection to your window sill or counter. Placing rocks in your pot before adding the soil is also not necessary as long as you use the correct mixture of soil.
Now we have to look at size. The bigger the pot, the better it is for your plant. If you decide to plant individual herbs use pots with a diameter of at least six inches. So, it stands to reason that your pot size will increase if you want to grow multiple herbs in one container. The container for two or more different herb plants together should have a diameter of no less than ten inches and should be around eight inches deep.
The potting soil you use in your pots must be organic and of a high quality. It should allow for good drainage and should not be compacted. Choose a loamy, rich soil and if you want to increase the drainage, add one-part perlite to every twenty-five parts of soil. Never make the mistake of using soil from your garden. It may work well outside but will not do well indoors where the organisms which are found in nature to keep a balance are absent.
How do you know that the soil is well drained? After watering the soil should stay grainy and not come together to form a ball. Squeeze a handful of soil; when you release it, is should just crumble instead of sticking together in a lump.
I would suggest that you add eggshells to the soil of all your Mediterranean herbs like thyme, basil and rosemary. They flourish on a little additional lime. The way to do it is to place the eggshells in your food processor together with a bit of water. When you prepare the potting soil, add a spoonful of this mixture to each pot or container.
Most herbs are quite hearty, but they will still need a good quality organic fertilizer. Use liquid seaweed or (if you can stand the smell) some fish emulsion. Remember that you are cultivating your herbs for the leaves and not for their flowers, therefore choose a fertilizer with low levels of phosphorous which will not promote their blooming. A practical solution is to use a one-gallon juice jug, filled with water. Then make a weak organic fertilizer by adding a tablespoon of the fish emulsion. Use this water solution for watering your herb plants and they will get all the food they need. If you do some research, you will even be able to make up your own home-made fish emulsion.
Again: Inspect your herb plants regularly and they will tell you when they need extra food. If it looks like they are stagnating and do not seem to grow any further, you probably need to feed them. Yellow leaves can also be an indication that they need some feeding, but first make sure that it is not a sign of overwatering.
It is much harder to grow herbs from seeds, so it is much better to buy baby plants to start with. When selecting your baby herb plants, try to choose those that have always been growing indoors, rather than outside. Plants find it difficult to adapt to a new environment and bringing an outdoor plant inside may be somewhat traumatic for it. Do your purchases at your local nursery and make sure you buy those plants which are suited to your climatic conditions.
Never leave your plants in exactly the self-same position. All plants tend to grow towards the light, so make sure you rotate all your pots every week.
Why are you growing herbs? They are for the eating, of course. The more leaves you cut, the more you will encourage your plant to grow. Just make sure you always leave two thirds of the plant intact.
Just like human beings, your herbs also need fresh air. Stagnant air will lead to the development of fungus and this is definitely not what you want instead of healthy herbs. You can promote good, adequate air circulation by placing your containers on a tray with pebbles; air can then circulate through their drainage holes at the bottom.
Many plants go into a kind of resting phase during the colder winter months when there is less sunlight. This is only natural and you should not try and force them to grow more than they are happy with. Allow them to do what comes naturally and cut down on their watering. They will soon start growing again when the warmer months arrive.
Check your plants regularly for any pests. Scale manifests as rusty brown spots and is easily treated by washing it with a very mild soap. Otherwise you can rub each spot with rubbing alcohol. Rinse well. Aphids can be rinsed off under the shower of sink.
If you are growing perennials, inspect them at least once every twelve months. Check whether their roots are starting to grow out at the bottom. If this is the case, carefully take the entire plant out of its container. The roots should not be brown or forming a circle of growth; healthy roots will be white.
If your herb plant has unhealthy roots, you can do one of two things. Trim the roots a little and then transfer your plant into a larger pot. If you do not want your herb plant to grow any bigger than it already is, cut about an inch off the root bottoms and the same amount all around the roots vertically to make it somewhat smaller. Re-pot your herb plant with some extra soil. You should now trim the exact same amount off the upper growth (the leaves and stems) as you did from its root system.
Do not get discouraged when you encounter problems with your indoor herb garden. There are many knowledgeable people to help you with advice. First enquire at the local nursery or consult the Internet.