Author Topic: Indoor Herbs over the winter  (Read 3348 times)

BudgetSlasher

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Indoor Herbs over the winter
« on: October 30, 2020, 04:03:52 PM »
Does anyone do indoor herb gardening, at least over winter? I have so many questions.

A bit of background. Every summer we grow herbs outside this year it was basil, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, tarragon, mint and parsley (there were peppers and tomatoes as well); the mint is in ground and will regrow again next year, the thyme and rosemary pots come inside for the winter (but basically go dormant). We use a lot of herbs and during the summer we can just pop outside and snip a few, but in the winter we are basically limited to store bought. For several years we have said it would be nice to have a winter herb garden inside, but to make it worth it for us it need to be a good amount, not a few cute pots on the window sill. Since we are now going 2 to 3 weeks between grocery pick-ups and not popping by on the way home for odds n' ends perhaps this is the year we do something about it.

So questions:

First, have LED grow lights gotten there? It has been about 10 years since we used grow lights for seedling starting and at that time you could do CFL, but LED wasn't near as good for plant growth. If LED has gotten there is there anything to look for or to avoid?

Second, hydroponic vs soil, coco coir? When I try and research it everyone seems to have a strong opinion as to which is best. We are familiar with growing in soil and honestly we do not tend to react instantly when there is an issue.

Finally (for now), are there any good looking ready made solutions? I've been looking around and it seems like the decent sized system (3 tier for example) start at ~700 and then the sky's the limit. This would likely be in the kitchen so appearances matter. I could build something nice, but it would take time away from other projects.

Thanks.

RetiredAt63

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2020, 05:44:53 AM »
The only herb I've had luck with indoors is Rosemary in a South facing window.  My sister has basil in a special hydroponics pot - the basil came already growing in the pot, she didn't set it up.

I agree about the flavour of bought dried herbs.  My solution is to grow extra and dry it myself.  So, maybe next summer grow extra? And if you cut more off your existing plants that will stimulate growth.

Roadrunner53

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2020, 06:02:40 AM »
Your story sounds like mine. I grow herbs on my deck during the summer and go out and snip them off as needed.

My deck has an awning over it and no shelter during the winter and too cold for plants.

I just discovered how wonderful and easy it is to grow scallions from the roots of the scallions.

I too would like to find a solution to growing stuff indoors.

crazy jane

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2020, 04:43:16 PM »
You could try the Kratky method. I don't use it, but I was gifted aerogargens and I love them. Similar hydroponic set up.

maizefolk

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2020, 05:27:56 PM »
I've had really good luck with LED growth lights for starting things early in the spring to move outdoors later in the spring when it warms up enough.

I haven't tried with herbs myself but I think the light intensity is definitely there, my own question would be if the flavors might end up being a big different with the plants growing in such a different environment.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2020, 06:05:33 PM »
I've had really good luck with LED growth lights for starting things early in the spring to move outdoors later in the spring when it warms up enough.

I haven't tried with herbs myself but I think the light intensity is definitely there, my own question would be if the flavors might end up being a big different with the plants growing in such a different environment.

I have a couple questions about LEDs, I hope you do not mind if I pepper you with a couple of them.

What brand do you use? Do you know if there are things or brands to avoid? I have seen lights that have ... let us call them "odd" color profiles ... do you use a standard colored bulb?

I suppose you are right the flavor could be different, but (with our behavior right now) the alternative is herbs that have been in our house for up to two weeks; before that who knows how long it was between when they were cut and when we bought them.


maizefolk

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2020, 06:25:22 PM »
I just order off amazon and look for good reviews. I think the biggest one I have right now is from PlatinumLED and it's been reliable for a number of years at this point without any diodes burning out or other problems, but there may be newer brands/better deals today.

By odd color profile do you mean the purple light? If so, yes, the LED growth lights I use are also purple (actually a mix of individual red and blue LEDs built into a single panel). The reasoning here is that chlorophyll is most efficient at absorbing red and blue light (most green light just gets reflected, not used, which is why plant leaves look green). So the purple LEDs only make the wavelengths of light that plants need and don't waste energy making light that will go to waste.



In my experience plants grow perfectly well under the purple LEDs, but that that's also part of the reason I was wondering if herbs grown under LEDs would taste differently. This past spring I had some peppers that turned really purple under LED lights (over producing anthocyanin) and then green again once I moved them outside. But this may also have been a stress response to putting a too powerful grow light too close to them.

« Last Edit: October 31, 2020, 06:27:16 PM by maizefolk »

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2020, 08:42:11 AM »
Quick question about the aerogardens. How much care do they require and how quickly? I ask because with our outdoor plants that are grown in soil we have a bit of a buffer after we notice an issue, such as the need to water or fertilize can be delayed until the next day or a couple days respectively. And some of our outdoors garden isn't seen every day. From what I hear regarding the non-soil methods is that you need to react much more quickly, but I do not know how quick that actually is.

I just order off amazon and look for good reviews. I think the biggest one I have right now is from PlatinumLED and it's been reliable for a number of years at this point without any diodes burning out or other problems, but there may be newer brands/better deals today.

By odd color profile do you mean the purple light? If so, yes, the LED growth lights I use are also purple (actually a mix of individual red and blue LEDs built into a single panel). The reasoning here is that chlorophyll is most efficient at absorbing red and blue light (most green light just gets reflected, not used, which is why plant leaves look green). So the purple LEDs only make the wavelengths of light that plants need and don't waste energy making light that will go to waste.



In my experience plants grow perfectly well under the purple LEDs, but that that's also part of the reason I was wondering if herbs grown under LEDs would taste differently. This past spring I had some peppers that turned really purple under LED lights (over producing anthocyanin) and then green again once I moved them outside. But this may also have been a stress response to putting a too powerful grow light too close to them.



Yes, the purple color was what I was referring to as "odd" though it varies in pictures online as to what color it actually looks like ... to me anyways. The premise of way makes sense, though it has been many years since my plant biology classes

I only find the color a problem because I would like to place the herbs in the kitchen for multiple months and a more daylight colored bulb would be less off putting. Shorter term or in a less prominent place the purple bulb would be fine.

maizefolk

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2020, 09:13:11 AM »
I found that when I tried to photograph plants under the purple LEDs with a camera, the way it actually looked in person wasn't reproduced well at all. Not sure if that was a poor color balance chip in the camera trying to make sense of nonsensical input or what, but it makes sense to me that a lot of the photos online look different from each other and none of really a good representation of what it looks like in person.

I realize this answer isn't much help.

CodingHare

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2022, 10:16:22 AM »
Reviving since this seems like the best thread for indoor hydroponic setups.

I just bought an Aerogarden Harvest to dip my toes into hydroponics.  I've had an interest in it since I was a kid.  I know I can build a custom setup for cheaper, but I figured the kit would let me dip my toes in.

We buy so much fresh basil at the grocery store at $5 a pop, I'm hoping this will put a dent in it.  I planted 4 Genovese basil, 1 Thai basil, and 1 curly parsley yesterday to start out.

I looked at the Aerovoir reservoir system to keep it topped off, but if I can't jury rig my own siphon system for less than $40 I don't think I can call myself Mustachian.

sixwings

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2022, 01:55:27 PM »
I have an aerogarden and love it. It made it's money back after about 8 months of not needing to buy basil and other fresh herbs. Basil where I live is $5-7, and it's a pain especially when i only need a few leaves as garnish. Making pesto is like $20+. I bought it on a mothers day sale for 30% off so maybe keep an eye on their website for sales, but it's a great product!

GuitarStv

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2022, 02:29:06 PM »
Just be careful with bugs if you're bringing plants in from outside.  Those bugs can be relentless in an indoor environment without wind, rain, and other things to keep them under control.

CodingHare

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2022, 02:30:37 PM »
I have an aerogarden and love it. It made it's money back after about 8 months of not needing to buy basil and other fresh herbs. Basil where I live is $5-7, and it's a pain especially when i only need a few leaves as garnish. Making pesto is like $20+. I bought it on a mothers day sale for 30% off so maybe keep an eye on their website for sales, but it's a great product!

Your experience is exactly what I am hoping for!  I paid $164 for mine (mostly paid for with unused credit card rewards).  I wanted the Elite model with the proper clock, even though it is 100% a ripoff for the price compared to the parts.  Even so, I only need to harvest basil 33 times to make it equivalent to buying basil at the store for $5 a pop.  And the replacement pods with my own seeds will make that even cheaper going forward.

Just be careful with bugs if you're bringing plants in from outside.  Those bugs can be relentless in an indoor environment without wind, rain, and other things to keep them under control.

Will do!  I do have other houseplants but no bug problem so far.  I will keep a close eye on it.  Don't need gnats in my office for sure.

Captain Pierogi

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2022, 05:57:54 AM »
Reviving since this seems like the best thread for indoor hydroponic setups.

I just bought an Aerogarden Harvest to dip my toes into hydroponics.  I've had an interest in it since I was a kid.  I know I can build a custom setup for cheaper, but I figured the kit would let me dip my toes in.

We buy so much fresh basil at the grocery store at $5 a pop, I'm hoping this will put a dent in it.  I planted 4 Genovese basil, 1 Thai basil, and 1 curly parsley yesterday to start out.

I looked at the Aerovoir reservoir system to keep it topped off, but if I can't jury rig my own siphon system for less than $40 I don't think I can call myself Mustachian.

I've been using an Aerogarden for three (maybe four?) years, and it's great.  During the winter, I use it to keep fresh herbs going, but leading into summer, i use it to start almost all of my fresh herbs that transplant into pots outdoors.  Way better yield than starting seed in starter soil.  I've been largely successful this year in popping out the root system from the plastic cage so they're reusable. So now I'm wondering if anyone has had success with reusing them with plain old peat moss.  That would make all of this even more cost efficient!

sixwings

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2022, 09:20:17 AM »
Reviving since this seems like the best thread for indoor hydroponic setups.

I just bought an Aerogarden Harvest to dip my toes into hydroponics.  I've had an interest in it since I was a kid.  I know I can build a custom setup for cheaper, but I figured the kit would let me dip my toes in.

We buy so much fresh basil at the grocery store at $5 a pop, I'm hoping this will put a dent in it.  I planted 4 Genovese basil, 1 Thai basil, and 1 curly parsley yesterday to start out.

I looked at the Aerovoir reservoir system to keep it topped off, but if I can't jury rig my own siphon system for less than $40 I don't think I can call myself Mustachian.

I've been using an Aerogarden for three (maybe four?) years, and it's great.  During the winter, I use it to keep fresh herbs going, but leading into summer, i use it to start almost all of my fresh herbs that transplant into pots outdoors.  Way better yield than starting seed in starter soil.  I've been largely successful this year in popping out the root system from the plastic cage so they're reusable. So now I'm wondering if anyone has had success with reusing them with plain old peat moss.  That would make all of this even more cost efficient!

oooooh i want to do that next year, how do you do it? is there a website with instructions? I might get another one on sale for starting seeds, that would save me even more money over buying starters at the nursery etc.

CodingHare

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2022, 10:01:29 AM »
I've been using an Aerogarden for three (maybe four?) years, and it's great.  During the winter, I use it to keep fresh herbs going, but leading into summer, i use it to start almost all of my fresh herbs that transplant into pots outdoors.  Way better yield than starting seed in starter soil.  I've been largely successful this year in popping out the root system from the plastic cage so they're reusable. So now I'm wondering if anyone has had success with reusing them with plain old peat moss.  That would make all of this even more cost efficient!

oooooh i want to do that next year, how do you do it? is there a website with instructions? I might get another one on sale for starting seeds, that would save me even more money over buying starters at the nursery etc.

I've been looking at that too!  I looked around and I see a lot of options for off-brand sponges, but not a lot of instructions for how to make your own.  It seems like a lot of people use coconut coir, which is made from the husks of coconut shells.  The baskets you can reuse if you are careful about removing the plants (or 3d print, if you have that option available).

Specifically for starting seeds, Aerogarden sells a seed starting tray with more and smaller holes and no baskets, so you can pull out the plug easily.  We might look at that next year... although that would mean a break in the basil production.  Might be worth it if we actually got good at saving seeds from our tomatoes and zucchinis though.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #16 on: June 01, 2022, 11:59:43 AM »
For an el cheapo herb solution, I have been growing basil from seed in normal potting soil. It is better to not put the seeds closely together, as they will grow bigger when they get space. I have been thinning out my basil seedlings, so now I have numerous small yoghurt pots with 1 basil stilk. My goal is to grow some into plants that I can keep in a pot inside over winter. They are currently also inside in front of a sunny window, but they get sunburnt when outside.

I also sowed parsley from pretty old seed and after quite a long time that sprouted nicely.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2022, 08:38:32 AM by Linea_Norway »

cats

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2022, 08:56:54 AM »
Posting as I'm hoping to get some ideas :)  We just moved to an area that gets actual winter (Minnesota) and I am looking at the possibility of growing herbs, lettuces, and salad greens indoors over the winter.  Produce at the grocery store is definitely more expensive here than it was in California (surprise!), particularly anything fancier than iceberg/romaine lettuce and cilantro.

Has anyone done a DIY hydroponics set up and if yes, any suggestions on where to look for instructions & maintenance tips?  I have seen a lot of different options with varying levels of complexity & expense.  Also wondering about just doing stuff in pots and figuring out when a grow light is needed.  We have a south facing covered porch (glass windows, though I am guessing in Dec-Feb it will still be getting quite cold) and also a south facing sunroom, so we definitely have some space that gets good natural light, but presumably this far north even a full day of natural light is maybe not enough.

At the moment I have a few things in pots that I have started over the past month: watercress, snap peas, kale, mint, lemon verbena, lettuce & arugula.  They are all growing, though already I feel the growth rate is slow compared to summer, so maybe that's a sign that a grow light would be useful?  Or maybe I am just being impatient and noticing more! The garden space in our old apartment was somewhere you would really only go intentionally, in contrast I see my indoor plants multiple times per day.

herbgeek

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2022, 03:56:33 PM »
Since you mentioned salad greens...The cheapest, easiest method I have found is detailed in the book Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke.  In a nutshell, you germinate seeds in the dark for a few days so they get a leggy stem, then bring them out to a windowsill for a few days.  Start to finish 10-12 days.  No grow lights or special equipment needed- although I use a gardening heat mat that I had anyways. I use disposable bread pans ($.20 @) at a local discount store and reuse them all season.  You can eat them as just salad greens as is, but I prefer adding them to store lettuce (we have a brand here that is hydroponically grown on an old Army base).   Each bread pan has a different seed (because they grow at different rates)- I like a mix of sunflower, pea and radish.

Cranky

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #19 on: October 03, 2022, 06:30:58 AM »
Herbs do really, really well in an aerogarden. We bring many plants inside for the winter, including the big pots of rosemary, thyme, sage and lavender, and we have a basement setup with grow lights. It's pretty cheerful down there! I'm going to buy a pot of basil and see how it does this winter down there.

Dh bought a book about DIY hydroponics - aimed at vegetables, not weed LOL - at the garden expo last spring, but we haven't tried anything out.

Beach_Stache

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #20 on: November 26, 2022, 08:11:53 AM »
You could try the Kratky method. I don't use it, but I was gifted aerogargens and I love them. Similar hydroponic set up.

I use Kratky indoors for herbs and all greens (kale, lettuce, etc.)  I just started basil, cilantro and parsley for herbs indoor.  It's so simple, you just start seeds (or via paper towel method) and then transplant into old plastic containers that are blacket out from light.  Youtube kratky and you'll find a ton of video's and it's really simple.  I cut about a big tupperwear container full of greens once/week, then have a bunch more outdoors both in soil as well as kratky containers.  Here is a picture of my indoor setup.  Bought some cheap LED grow lights from amazon and they do the trick.  I also start my seedlings that I'll plant outdoor under the grow lights as well.

chasingsnow

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2022, 01:02:11 PM »
PTF my partner and I have wanted to do this before but just haven't gotten around to it. We live in such a sunny place now too so it's a prime opportunity.

Serendip

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2022, 07:04:28 PM »
Since you mentioned salad greens...The cheapest, easiest method I have found is detailed in the book Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke.  In a nutshell, you germinate seeds in the dark for a few days so they get a leggy stem, then bring them out to a windowsill for a few days.  Start to finish 10-12 days.  No grow lights or special equipment needed- although I use a gardening heat mat that I had anyways. I use disposable bread pans ($.20 @) at a local discount store and reuse them all season.  You can eat them as just salad greens as is, but I prefer adding them to store lettuce (we have a brand here that is hydroponically grown on an old Army base).   Each bread pan has a different seed (because they grow at different rates)- I like a mix of sunflower, pea and radish.

I do this method too @herbgeek --bought the book a few years ago and now I grow a huge range of micro greens & sprouts using his approach. We have a dark, warm area under the stairs which is where I initially place mine for the first few days. It's so wonderful to be able to grow without any additional lights--just whatever light comes in from the windows..

We also grow some herbs inside..we've had one basil plant going for 6 or 7 years! It's our miracle plant :)

Linea_Norway

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2022, 01:54:27 AM »
For an el cheapo herb solution, I have been growing basil from seed in normal potting soil. It is better to not put the seeds closely together, as they will grow bigger when they get space. I have been thinning out my basil seedlings, so now I have numerous small yoghurt pots with 1 basil stilk. My goal is to grow some into plants that I can keep in a pot inside over winter. They are currently also inside in front of a sunny window, but they get sunburnt when outside.

I also sowed parsley from pretty old seed and after quite a long time that sprouted nicely.

In autumn I had to finish my basil plants. They just didn't thrive with so little daylight. And I don't want to use artificial lights (extra energy). I will start again in the new year when the days grow longer and there is bright sun.

LinLin

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Re: Indoor Herbs over the winter
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2022, 09:45:57 PM »
I am very excited to learn about the aerogarden! In the summer we grow tons of basil outdoors in Earthboxes, and I make enough pesto to last through the winter (which I store in jars in the freezer). This year I thought, why not try to grow basil indoors during the winter? I bought some LED grow lights and replanted a few of the outside basil plants in a large pot with fresh soil. They almost immediately withered and got moldy! I tried it again with the same results. I have no idea what I did wrong, but maybe the aerogarden would be worth a try.