First attempt at herbs

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Old 02-21-20, 01:13 PM
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First attempt at herbs

My son started some indoor herbs (parsley, basil, thyme, arugula, cilantro), but has pretty much given up.

they sprouted and grew about 4-6 inches. The basil faired the worst with only 3-4 shoots.

we harvested some, but they just don’t seem to be be producing as expected. We’ve moved them from a basement grow light( temp was about 60-65f) to an eastern and southern window (main floor temp 72) Lots of light. We’re in Canada, so the glass next to the windows could be quite cold.

i was expecting much more yield, growth and fullness. We used a miracle grow soil. They are planted in ceramic pots with no drainage at the bottom. Overall, they appear weak (not standing up straight) and thin. The Thyme appears the fullest, but the roots appear fragile and the area directly above the soil also appears fragile.

any tips? Remove from cold window? Fertilizer? Food? Pots with drainage?

how much yield should I expect with these herbs? I can add pictures if that helps.
 
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Old 02-21-20, 03:10 PM
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What grow light do you have? What is it's actual wattage not the inflated advertised number? How far is your light above the plants? How much area are you illuminating? You mentioned a lot of herbs and only one light so my first guess is there isn't enough horsepower in the lighting department. Also your description that the plants are thin and frail makes me think they stretched to reach the light.

Herbs are full sun plants. They need a lot of light. You are recreating the sun. For herbs as a very general starting point I'm looking for about 35 actual watts of LED illumination per square foot. If the LED's are the only light they need to be bright enough to make you consider sunglasses when working on your plants. It is very important to note that there is actual wattage and then there is the totally fake number that many manufacturers provide. Also, cheap LED's are less efficient so you may need more wattage to compensate.

As for yields you get what you put in. If doing it totally artificially you will need a lot of illumination. If you can put the plants in a south facing window the sun can provide maybe half the light herbs need for good production. Remember herbs grow during summer with long bright days, not December-February where the days are short and the sun is low on the horizon. In a south facing window sill I would run extra illumination if you want good yields. In a window I would run the artificial lighting for 14 or 16 hours to better simulate summer's long days with the natural sunlight in the middle of your illumination period to help kick the light level up to a more productive level.

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I have an app on my phone called Lux Light Meter. When I'm growing full sun plants and want good yields I'm looking for about 35'000 lux at the top of the plants. When I'm pushing plants for yields I'm giving them that light for 12-18 hours a day depending on the plants. February sun in a south facing window at my house here in NC peaks shy of 20'000 and much of the day is only around 15'000 or less so even a sunny window isn't enough for great herbs, flowers or vegetables. In Canada you're probably getting considerably less light through the window, especially if you have high efficiency windows with multiple panes and low E coatings.
 
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Old 02-21-20, 03:31 PM
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We are no longer using the grow lights for the herbs. I wanted to bring them upstairs to start using them. The fixture is now being used for vegetables.

should I go back to the grow light for the herbs in lieu of the natural sunlight?

We’ve illuminated a table about 8 square feet. Using traditional fluorescent light fixture with grow lights. 2 x 40w.
We have a second fixture which I could set up.

herbs were about 8 inches from the light. So it sounds like I need more light from the grow lamps as the sun isn’t providing enough. Is the temp in the basement (around 60-65f) ok?
 
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Old 02-27-20, 02:39 PM
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Here are some photos of arugula, basil, thyme and parsley.

as you’ll see, the bottom sections are thin and white/yellow. We have harvested all but the basil, but only very little. Maybe I need to go back to the grow lights and not rely on the feb Canadian sun?
 
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Old 02-27-20, 05:28 PM
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You need a lot more light. The stretched plants and pale color are sure signs. Your fluorescent lights are OK for seed starting but not enough for adult plants and good yields. I would put your table right next to a big south facing window and have your fluorescents above and running 16 or 18 hours a day.

Also, your pots are way tiny for adult plants and the soil depth is very, very shallow. Most seeds will have roots down several inches before the plant even breaks the surface so your herbs likely hit bottom when they were just wee little sprouts. My small indoor herbs are in pots 6" in diameter and 9" deep and the soil goes all the way to the top of the pot to provide as much root area possible.

But, light is what provides the energy for everything. Water and fertilizer are just there to support the plant's solar panels (leaves). A plant can survive in low light but it won't thrive, produce good yields or taste very good without LOTS and LOTS of light. Remember you are trying to recreate the summer's sun.

Instead of fluorescent tubes I recommend a LED grow light. There are many inexpensive options available online. For less than $100 you can get a good deal of grow light horsepower. The lights using red and blue LED emitters are inexpensive but they work.
 
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Old 03-12-20, 12:53 PM
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Pots need drain holes.....
 
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Old 03-12-20, 05:45 PM
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Yes, drainage holes are a very, very good thing. Without proper drainage root rot becomes more likely. With drain holes it really doesn't hurt if you apply too much water on watering day. The excess just runs out the bottom. Just don't water too frequently so you don't drown the roots.

I'm now trying fabric pots to air trim roots. I'm having to water much more frequently but it's too early to tell if extreme drainage and oxygen to the roots improve yield.
 
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Old 03-20-20, 04:47 PM
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The increased light has helped. I also moved the herbs to a larger pot with drain. The thyme is struggling with the move. All the other are growing strong, tall and green.....but, excuse my ignorance.

Do the herbs ever multiplying. And how? The cilantro and parsley seem quite “bushy”. The basil was green and strong only has a few shoots. How do we increase output? Is it just a factor of the seeds?

Thanks again
 
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Old 03-21-20, 05:38 AM
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All living organisms multiply and most plants can be propagated several ways. Most will produce seeds but you can also split them or take cuttings and root them.

Read the instructions for what you are growing and try to follow those instructions as best possible. When they say plant basil 10-12" apart that means each individual plant should be a foot away from any other. That does not mean put a dozen basil seeds into one small pot. If you dump a hundred seeds into a tiny pot all are competing and they all will be stunted and small.
 
 

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