Monday, October 1, 2012

Time to Dig up Outdoor Herbs and Bring them Indoors

Fall is here and we all know what that means; an end all be all frost is soon to follow here in the north. If you have potted outdoor herbs or any in the ground, now is a good time to bring them indoors. I've already dug up my basil plants, potted them and brought them in for the winter. Annuals, when brought in before the frost, last well into winter.

Which Herbs Should You Bring Indoors?

Before you put your shovel to work, take a good look at the herbs you want to pot. Are they healthy? Are they already knocking on death’s door? Only pot those that are healthy and aren’t showing any signs of dying off as these won’t last very long indoors. Checking for insects and keep in mind that small to medium sized plants transplant the best.

How to Pot Outdoor Herbs

Step 1 Choose the Right-Sized Container: Potted herbs benefit from well-draining containers and those that allow for ample air circulation. Untreated containers such as terra cotta and wood are porous and work well for potted herbs because they let air in and excess moisture out. Choose a container size that will accommodate the root ball of your plants. I prefer to use containers that are twice the size of the root ball of my plants.

Step 2 Dig Up Outdoor Herbs: On a cloudy day, give your herbs a good watering. Gently dig around the plants, about twice the circumference, and coax them out of the ground. It’s okay not to get the entire root ball. When transplanting from the ground to containers, it’s normal for some of the root system to be left behind.

Step 3 Potting Outdoor Herbs: Transplant your freshly dug up herbs to containers that are of the right size and filled with one part peat moss, 1 part sand and 1 part potting mix. Water your plants and move them to a shady spot outdoors.

Step 4 Acclimating Newly Potted Herbs: If the weather permits, let your newly potted plants rest outside in the shade for 1 to 2 weeks before bringing them indoors. This helps to acclimate them to indoor growing conditions. If need be, bring them in at night if the temperatures dip or the average frost date is growing near.

Step 5 Choose the Right Spot Indoors: Before bringing your potted herbs indoors, check them once again for insects. Inspect the leaves and stems of plants thoroughly and remove any insects or eggs you find. Next, choose a spot indoors that receives lots of sun. The sunniest spots of the house are usually those that face south.

Continue to water your plants as they need it. Harvest herbs to use fresh and dry any extras. It’s best to keep harvesting to encourage the plants to keep growing. Don’t worry if your plants look limp for a few days after potting or bringing them indoors; some may go into shock but usually they’ll snap out of it in a few days time. My basil plants wilted but after a good watering they came back a few days later.

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