Spicy herbs can be successfully grown on a kitchen windowsill in winter and significantly diversify the range of herbs available on the market. In addition to their aromatic qualities, many of them show different shades of foliage and are no less spectacular than recognized indoor pets. If you want, grow them in separate pots, or if you want, make a fragrant mix in a wide bowl or a small balcony box. Special containers - "vegetable gardens" with pockets or holes are also sold. The activity is very fashionable and not devoid of benefits. The cultivation process is generally simple, but some special conditions for scented herbs still need to be created. Let's talk about everything in order.
Take home from the garden
The easiest way to instantly get a spicy bed on a kitchen windowsill is to take a few plants in the garden before the autumn frosts come. Perennial spicy plants are suitable for this - Thyme, Sage, hyssop, oregano, mint, lemon balm, catnip, savory, as well as the annual Basil. Choose well-developed, healthy specimens, water them and transplant them with a lump, taking care not to damage the root system, into pots of fresh potting soil. Large bushes can be divided or used for planting root suckers.
The pot in diameter should be only 2-5 cm wider than the size of the root ball of the plant, otherwise the roots, unable to cope with moisture, will rot. After transplanting, without sparing, cut off the greens, leaving only 3 cm, at the basil and hyssop just pinch the shoots.
Tarragon requires a dormant period before winter begins. Transplant the plant into a pot and leave it in the garden until the leaves are dead. Transfer to a cool place for a few days. Then put on the lightest windowsill and feed with organic fertilizers.
Supplement with ready-made plants
To make fragrant compositions richer and more varied, it is worth visiting garden centers and nurseries (discounts are announced there in the fall). From spicy herbs, it is possible to find varietal thymes - for example, the common compactus, the lemon-smelling Golden King and Silver Queen, oregano, including the yellow-leaved variety Aureum, medicinal sage, often its purple-leaved variety Purpurascens, narrow-leaved lavender, various mint. By the way, peppermint is the most common of the mint, but the aroma of its leaves is too menthol, it is much softer and richer in other species, for example, short and little sprawling mint curly, which is an ideal candidate for growing on a windowsill.
Planting by cuttings
If there is not enough planting material, use cuttings. This is how oregano, thyme, mint, sage are propagated, hyssop. For rooting, cut the top 10 cm shoots, remove the lower leaves and root under a cut plastic bottle or transparent plastic bag. To speed up the process, you can dust the tips with Kornevin or soak in a solution of Zircon (4 ml per 1 liter of water) for 14 hours. Good lighting, supplemental lighting with phytolamps significantly speeds up the rooting process. This method allows you to get young, well-leafy plants from mother plants, which in the lower part have already become lignified and will give little fragrant greenery.
Forcing root crops and bulbous crops
How can you do without parsley? It, as well as Celery and Pasternak, is dug up in the fall, the greens are cut off, and the roots are placed, covered with sand, for storage in a basement with a low positive temperature (+1 ... + 3oC). From November to March, they are planted in batches in deep pots at a slight slope, as the greens grow, they are fed once. Can be used for planting and purchased root crops with intact apical bud. Greens grow back within a month.
Onion. Small samples left after harvesting the onion, or starting to sprout during storage, can be driven out onto a feather in water or in soil until summer. Sevok is also suitable for this, which is planted in shallow containers after preliminary soaking. Each planting allows you to have a green feather for several weeks.
Garlic. The cloves of garlic are planted 3-4 cm deep to obtain young greens, which will be ready in 3 weeks. You can even use withered or spoiled ones, gradually planting them in pots to other greens.
Finally, some plants can be sown. Despite the fact that the most favorable time for indoor crops comes in spring, with an increase in the amount of light, there are many crops that germinate easily, develop well at room temperature and a lack of light in winter. There are sometimes ready-made kits for growing greenery on sale, including beautiful pots, substrate and seeds - a godsend for those who appreciate the aesthetic side of the process.
Use the time free from summer cottages to get acquainted with new spicy-flavoring and green cultures. Growing some of them can be real fun for kids and adults alike! See for yourself.
Watercress is one of the easiest crops to grow on a windowsill. Cold-resistant, moisture-loving, is content with a small amount of light (without additional illumination), does without soil, grows quickly. Seeds are sown thickly on the surface of gauze or paper napkin, laid in several layers in a shallow plastic tray and moistened (you can sow on a soaked colorless hydrogel). Seedlings are ready for use in a few days - they are simply cut off with scissors. For continuous production of watercress greens, sowing is performed every week. You can also grow it in soil, then the greens are ready for use in 2-3 weeks. To make it tender and juicy, you need constant spraying with water.
Sheet, or lettuce mustard is grown similarly to watercress. In autumn, it is better to sow on cheesecloth or a napkin, and cut off when the foliage reaches a height of 5 cm.If sowed in a mixture with watercress and leafy turnip seeds (cabins), beautiful ornamental shoots are obtained, and after 7-10 days - a mixture of vitamin greens for salads, sandwiches and sauces. All three crops are cold-resistant, grow well already at a temperature of + 15 ° C, without additional lighting.
Chervil. Sowed every 2 weeks. It is cold-resistant, grows at + 15 + 16 ° C, needs high air humidity (spraying). After a month, they cut it off once, because it grows back badly, and they sow again.
Watercress. Another plant that is not demanding for light, but constantly needs moisture. Grown through seedlings, then sown at a distance of 15-20 cm or in separate pots. If you have grown it outdoors in the summer, you can use cuttings that root easily in water.
Cucumber herb, or borage... It is sown into the soil, thinned out to a distance of 15 cm. It grows for 3-4 weeks until the phase of 2-3 true leaves, then it is cut off. Before harvesting, it is necessary to dry the soil a little to increase the aroma of the greenery.
Perilla. This plant with laced, chocolate-colored leaves is more commonly seen in flower beds than in vegetable gardens. But it is not inferior in the content of valuable substances to carrots! Easy to grow on a cool windowsill. It is necessary to take into account only one circumstance - so that plants do not quickly enter the flowering phase on short autumn days, they need to extend the length of the day to 14 hours.
Valerianella, or field salad... No less rival of carrots in terms of the content of biologically active substances. Has a sweetish taste and nutty aroma of herbs, which goes well with meat dishes. Cold-resistant and moisture-loving plant, easily grown on a windowsill.In just a month, it forms beautiful rosettes of green oblong leaves. However, with a lack of light, it is more advisable to grow on a napkin, like a watercress, or use healthy sprouted seeds.
Now about the actual cultivation
In winter, it can be very dry on the windowsill due to the work of heating, so already at the stage of choosing pots, keep in mind that clay soil will dry out faster than plastic, so they are more suitable for drought-resistant crops (thyme, sage, for example). However, regardless of the ratio of certain plants to moisture, they all need good drainage, for which you can use not only purchased expanded clay, but also small pebbles, fragments of brick, sand, or pieces of foam.
The composition of the potting mix... Purchased soil for vegetable plants consists mainly of peat and sand and does not retain moisture well. In order to get rid of this shortcoming, it is necessary to add garden loam or compost to it. It's also a good idea to mix 1 g of dry hydrogel (1/4 teaspoon) for every liter of substrate. It is more convenient to use a hydrogel just dry - after watering it will swell and replenish the sediment of the soil. Such an additive will reduce the frequency of watering to 2-3 times a month and facilitate maintenance.
Transplanting plants from a garden to indoor conditions is fraught with the danger of moving diseases and pests along with them, which can also spread to indoor plants. You will almost certainly bring in at least aphids. Therefore, we recommend that during the transplantation process, wash the aerial part of the plants with green soap, diluting 100 ml per 5 liters of water. It is an environmentally friendly product that has both insecticidal and disinfecting effects. Spill the substrate in the pot with a solution of the biological preparation Fitosporin-M instead of sterilizing the soil with steam.
After processing and planting, quarantine the herbs, isolating them from indoor plants for at least 2 weeks. However, it cannot be avoided anyway, since it is undesirable to immediately place the plants in the warmth from the autumn coolness, otherwise the greens will dry out. Such a shock is especially dangerous for grasses with delicate thin foliage, and less impact on drought-resistant, with small dense or pubescent leaves - thyme, sage and mint. First, place the pots of plants on a glazed unheated balcony or veranda of the house, and after 2 weeks bring it inside. If this is not possible, leave the pots in the garden for a week or two, only then treat the plants with green soap and pick up a cool but bright place in the room to start with, and then put them on a permanent one.
Growing conditions... And now about this most permanent place. The shortest days of the year are just around the corner, when the plants on the windowsill are so lacking in natural light. Light is needed not only for the bushes to grow lush and compact, forming as much of the desired greenery as possible, but also so that more essential oils are produced, which determine the aromas of the herbs. Plants have been found to require at least 5 hours of direct sun per day for this. Since it is practically absent in winter, the lack of light is compensated for by uniform supplementary illumination with special phyto-lamps or ordinary fluorescent tube lamps (but they are less efficient and consume more energy) for 14 hours a day. Luminescent lamps are suspended at a height of 30 cm (they heat up), and phytolamps - lower, at a height of 15-20 cm.With supplementary lighting, herbs can be grown even on northern windows, and if it is not there, they are placed on windows of southern, eastern, worse - western orientation ...
In addition to good lighting, it is necessary to provide air humidity. For this, any methods used when growing indoor plants are suitable - from pallets filled with gravel or expanded clay, and 1 cm filled with water, to household air humidifiers. But often in the kitchen, water vapor is already in abundance, you have to ventilate.Good ventilation, oxygen supply is also necessary for plants, you only have to protect them from the flow of frosty air.
For most spicy herbs, a comfortable temperature is + 18 ... + 22 ° C, at night it is very desirable to lower it to + 15 ° C. It is useful for happy owners of insulated balconies to know that daytime temperatures can be at + 15 ° C, and night temperatures can fall significantly lower, to +10 and even + 5 ° C, but the growth rate of grasses will also decrease.
Care common, like houseplants. From time to time you need to arrange shower for herbs to wash off the dust from the surface of the leaf blades.
There is perhaps only one feature. When growing plants for the sake of greenery, you do not need to be afraid to pinch and cut it - the herbs will grow back. Attempts to bloom should be discouraged by cutting off the inflorescences. And in order for the growth of the vegetative mass to be more active, every 1.5-2 months (and especially after cutting), additional feeding is desirable. Since we want to get environmentally friendly products, it is preferable to use organic fertilizers rather than mineral ones. The most perfect of them - with microorganisms, it is worth spending money on a box that will last more than one year. Having brought them in after planting, you don't have to worry until spring. They not only nourish the plants, but also enrich the soil with useful microflora (which is very important for pot growing), ensure rapid plant recovery after transplantation, and excellent root development. From the number of organic fertilizers, Biohumus is also acceptable - a product of the vital activity of worms, you can get by with Lignohumate or the more common Potassium Humate.
When feeding herbs along with all indoor plants with mineral fertilizers, try to adhere to the principle: it is better to underfeed than overfeed (you don't want to eat nitrates, do you?). It is necessary to intensify feeding from February, when the amount of light increases and the plants begin to grow more actively. In late April-early May, after preliminary hardening, perennial grasses will be ready to return to the garden.