You can’t bottle sunshine, but with special care you can bring its vigor into your house during the long dormant season. Check the calendar — fall is here, but that doesn’t mean your gardening time has to end.
Overwintering perennial herbs — such as rosemary and thyme — are a multifunctional and fun way to tap warm weather vitality by boosting your spirit and pleasing the palate.
But, it’s not as easy bringing pots inside. The indoor herb garden requires extra effort in Northeast Ohio, according to Karen Kennedy, education coordinator for The Herb Society of America, based in Kirtland. Extra effort means providing supplemental light and attentive watering.
LIGHT, LIGHT AND MORE LIGHT
“Most herbs require six to eight hours of sunlight per day,” says Briscoe White, co-founder and head grower at The Growers Exchange, an all-natural, online garden center in Virginia that specializes in rare and traditional herb plants for culinary, aromatic and medicinal use. “We recommend an unobstructed, southwest or east-facing window.”
That advice is more likely to succeed in areas further south. In Northeast Ohio, growing zones 6 and 7, winter sunshine can be elusive. In fact, if sun powers the plant’s energy production, imagine reducing that power 78 percent, from nine hours per day in July to roughly two hours per day in January. Not only do days get shorter in Northeast Ohio, actual sun strength dwindles. Less sunlight means reduced photosynthesis, and sun-loving herb plants starve.
So, what might look like success in October and November, could fail in January and February. That’s fine, if you have Kennedy’s expectations. “My goal is to keep it alive through the holidays, when I use it most,” she says of rosemary.
Post-holiday success is when modern light sources become important. That’s because traditional incandescent lighting is too hot and lacks the blue rays that plants need to move electrons and produce their own food....