Taking Care of Indoor Herbs

I don’t know about you guys but I have NEVER been good at keeping plants alive…I’m still trying to find my green thumb. Usually they last only a few months no matter what I do. I am however actually having more luck with keeping my herbs alive. I only bought four a little while ago to get started, just the most basic ones like basil, rosemary, mint, and oregano. I know I’ll actually get some use out of them.

At first I was moving them all around the house, in different rooms where there was different light, because I could never find the “sweet spot”. The stems of the herbs were growing rapidly towards any sunlight they could get, resulting in long stems with the leaves being very spaced apart. I finally found a good spot on my office desk where they seem to get a decent amount of light for most of the day. Also, re-pot them when you get a chance because if they stay in their small pots their roots can literally entangle themselves and the plant pretty much kills itself. I went to the dollar store and bought larger pots with the self watering system at the bottom.

One big problem I had was with the oregano. One day looking at it, while wondering why the hell there was hardly any new leaves sprouting and why it looked so sad, I saw it had little green bugs all over its stems. Aphids, and for some really they only like the oregano (Thankfully). They don’t even touch the other plants but, they are sucking the life out of my poor little Oregano plant. I squished a lot of them with my fingers and washed the plant off but in a couple days it would just be the same thing. So I’m trying an organic pest spray that I found online and its pretty much common ingredients you would have in your house. It’s from Rodale’s Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Insect and Disease Control.

1 garlic bulb
1 small onion
1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

combine in a food processor or blender and process into a paste. Mix into 1 quart of water and steep for 1 hour. Strain through a cheesecloth and add 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix well. The mixture can be stored for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

I purchased a few amber glass spray bottles for my cleaning products and cheesecloth is literally a $1 at the dollar store. I’ll be giving it a go over the next couple days and seeing if it can keep the aphids away naturally.

Here’s some tips I’ve researched that have really helped me:

– rotate the plant every week or so.  If not, it will start growing sideways toward the light source. This makes for a weak and unhealthy stem

–  look at the placement of the leaves. If you notice the stem getting longer and longer between each leaf or new growth, than it’s not getting enough light (It is stretching itself out to find that light before it can focus on any new growth)

– herbs don’t need as much water as you think, let them dry almost completely before re-watering or if you stick your finger an inch into the soil and its wet you don’t need to water yet.

– their roots also don’t like to sit in too much water either, so avoid over-watering (how is that for confusing?)

– get a good potting soil that has good drainage and make sure the pot you put it in has holes at the bottom for drainage

– re-pot the herb into a larger pot to allow for growth and to allow its roots to breathe

– when it’s time to trim your herb make sure not to take too much, and DO NOT remove the biggest, largest leaves you see as those are the leaves that feed the plant and take in the most sunlight.

I’m learning that herbs are usually pretty good with showing you how they are feeling or what they need, if your plant is droopy looking that could indicate it needs water or its getting too much sun. It gets easier and its also fun to actually watch them grow (even more fun when you can actually use them in your cooking).  So far its been a month and they haven’t completely died on me like most plants are destined to do.



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