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Growing Herbs Under Grow Lights

Growing herbs under lights pictureAll summer, you have been diligently planting, weeding, watering, and finally harvesting herbs from your own garden. Your food is filled with the delicious flavors that only home-grown herbs can provide. No store bought herb can ever taste as delicious as those you pick from your back yard. Alas, summer is now coming to an end. The days are growing shorter, and the weather is feeling cooler. And you’re getting ready to say good bye to that oh-so-fresh herbal taste in your food.

But wait! Did you know that you can grow herbs indoors year round? All you’ll need is a good light source, such as a grow light, some seeds and cuttings, and potting soil. Indeed, it’s easy and fulfilling to continue to grow your herbs indoors once the cold season hits.

What Should You Grow?

Certain herbs perform better indoors than others. All of the usual suspects like rosemary, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, chives, oregano, basil, dill and coriander can all be grown successfully indoors. You can even grow mint and garlic! Basil, dill and coriander need to be started from seeds, but rosemary and bay leaf can be rooted from cuttings.

Regardless of what herb you choose to grow indoors, you will need a source of light for your plants. Most herbs need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight a day, although there are always exceptions. Rosemary, parsley and mint can suffice with less, but basil needs 16 hours of direct light a day to grow.

Where will you get that kind of light? Grow lights for plants are also recommended for herbs. These are fluorescent lights specifically designed to encourage plant growth. You can buy them separately or purchase them as part of a kit, along with a plant stands. Plant stands are an efficient way to monitor, feed, and care for all of your herbs. By placing your herbs in a stand, you minimize dirt and water throughout the house, and you can ensure that each of them get the correct amount of light by using the grow light for your plants.

Your grow light should be six to nine inches above your plants. Grow lights do not give off enough heat to harm your plants, unlike incandescent bulbs, which can burn.

The Important Herb Facts

Herbs prefer an indoor temperature of 55’F-70’F, much like humans do. Indoor herbs, unlike their backyard counterparts, will need to be fertilized about once a month. You can use a slow-release fertilizer ‘stick’ designed specifically for herbs or a fish emulsion.

In terms of watering, it’s important that your plants retain sufficient moisture, but it’s equally important to make sure your herbs don’t drown. Choose a pot that has good drainage, as well as soil that also drains well. For soil, you can use good, high-quality potting soil, but make sure to choose soil specifically designed for edible herbs and vegetables. Otherwise, you can use a mixture of 1 part good quality potting soil, 1 part sand and 1 part humus.

A good rule of thumb is not to water your herbs until the top soil is dry. Your herbs will appreciate a little misting of their leaves here and there, and they may also appreciate better air circulation, provided by you with a small fan. If you use a fan, be careful that your herb’s soil does not dry out. Don’t forget to pot your herbs in a slightly bigger pot than they require, and re-pot them at intervals so that they do not get root-bound.

With grow lights, stands, and a passion for delicious flavor, you can enjoy the bounty of fresh herbs year round.

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