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Container Gardening: winter survival indoors

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Forum: Container GardeningReplies: 10, Views: 105
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JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 1, 2009
1:33 AM

Post #7228655

I have just purchased a small greenhouse and have it set up in my sewing room to overwinter a few select plants-ie: Greek Columnar Basil, Henna Coleus, and some others I love too much to lose. I have a ceiling fan running in reverse to circulate the air, and 4' fluorescent lights running. I want to try to avoid insect problems-namely fungus gnats. I remember reading of watering with Chamomile tea & peroxide- can someone refresh me as to the details? Thanks- Jo All help is appreciated!

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

November 1, 2009
2:47 AM

Post #7228850

How big is the greenhouse, and are the lights & fan inside it? How close to the plants are the lights? Chamomile tea is an anti-fungal, but won't help with insect issues. H2O2 is helpful as an anti-fungal and for providing some O2 to roots in situations where the soil is too water-retentive.

Al
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 1, 2009
4:10 AM

Post #7229066

Since it is inside, I am not using the plastic that came with the greenhouse. It's 3'in length, 2'deep, and 5'high. The lights are hooked up under 2 of the shelves, and I will use heat mats to start seeds with later. The ceiling fan is moving the air well. I wlll post photos tomorrow. I have read, I think, that bottom watering will cut down on gnats- true?
BocaBob
Boca Raton, FL
(Zone 10a)

November 1, 2009
1:04 PM

Post #7229568

There are two new products on the market that are organic and can be used inside. They are AzaMax and SucraShield. I just started using them. Check them out.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

November 1, 2009
2:53 PM

Post #7229864

Bottom watering for the short term might be ok, but over the course of the winter will promote the build-up of soluble salts from irrigation water and fertilizer solution in your medium. You'll need to regularly flush your medium from the top if you bottom water. Bottom watering may or may not help control gnats. The best way is to use a well-aerated medium that drains well and water on an 'as needed' basis. If you use a water retentive medium that wicks water well enough that the top of the soil becomes moist, there is no advantage in watering from the bottom, unless it's for your convenience. I sometimes point out that grower convenience and the planting's well-being are often mutually exclusive in a number of ways, so you might want to consider whether or not bottom-watering might be one of them. I think it is, but that's just my considered opinion. ;o)

What are you using in lieu of the plastic that came with it? How are you planning on keeping the r-humidity surrounding the plants in the 50-60% range?

Al
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 1, 2009
4:28 PM

Post #7230141

tapla- I am not using the plastic for better air circulation,which I know from past experience can be a problem. Coincidentally,I am having a whole house humidifier installed next week, which should help the plants as well as the humans! My hubby suffers with painful dry eyes here in the desert, and my skin stays itchy all the time. For soil right now I am combining MiracleGro Moisture Control mix & MG Potting mix. It seems to be a good texture. The Moisture Control one has a lot of peat, and the other not. I already have my first mail order of tomato seeds for next year!
GordonHawk
Brooklyn, NY
(Zone 7b)

November 1, 2009
4:34 PM

Post #7230158

I've had some pretty good results from using the mosquito dunks... disolved in water... then watering the plants with it.. it has BT in it.. and is quite safe inside or out.. as it's just a bacteria that kills them..

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

November 1, 2009
6:34 PM

Post #7230484

Why use a soil that promotes the proliferation of gnats and then take steps to kill them? MG moisture control is a very water-retentive soil, and mixing it with regular MG potting mix is still going to leave you with an extremely water retentive soil. This soil will be problematic in several ways, and especially so if/when growing in shallow containers because it supports a high perched water table, probably 3"+. That means that if you start seeds in a flat, or grow in 3-4" deep containers and water well, the entire soil mass will be completely saturated and will not drain. You'll have to choose between watering correctly and risking root rot, or watering incorrectly (in small sips) and dealing with the accompanying high level of soluble salts in the soil that type of watering promotes.

I don't want to belabor the point, or offer advice that isn't wanted, but if you want help with a soil that will assuredly make life easier and less frustrating than if you decide to use the MG soils, I'll be glad to open a dialog. If not, I'll just hope you fare well & move on. ;o) Though I do have considerable experience helping folks with their soils and in over-wintering under lights, plants that are considered difficult to over-winter.

Al

Katlian
Carson City, NV
(Zone 6b)

November 1, 2009
7:10 PM

Post #7230618

Hi Jo,
what type of humidifier did you get for your house? I'm thinking about getting one to help my sinus problems and dry skin.

If you don't want to uproot your plants and replace the soil you can add a layer of sand to the top of each pot to cover up the soil. I usually add 1/4 to 1/2 inch of sand. Makes sure to smooth out the soil so it doesn't stick up through the sand. Then I put a couple of rocks on the sand to pour water onto because it will make a hole down to the soil otherwise. Since I can't see or feel the soil I use a moisture sensor probe or the weight of the smaller pots to tell when they are getting dry. We still get an occasional gnat but not the hordes we used to have. Another helpful tool for bringing in plants is the yellow sticky cards. They won't control insets but you can inspect them easily to see if you have whiteflies or gnats. It can also be a useful indicator of whether the cats have been climbing on the shelves when you're not around :)
JoParrott
Richland, WA
(Zone 7b)

November 2, 2009
1:54 AM

Post #7231936

tapla, yes- I am always open to help and suggestions. Although I have been gardening for over 30 years, I make no claims to be all knowing! Over the years I have made discoveries to improve my crops, but with each year comes new challenges. I had always been the south until 2 years ago, now I am in the NW, and it is a new world.
Katlian- I don't have the humidifier yet- I have 2 estimates and will get a 3rd Tuesday and decide. One company suggested a steam unit, but the other said bad idea- it uses a water tank & float, and if the float sticks, you could flood the house- the brand I am considering is Aprilaire-model 600- google it and you will get tone of info.
Here's a photo of my greenhouse setup as it is now- as I have said I am open to suggestions.

Thumbnail by JoParrott
Click the image for an enlarged view.

tapla

tapla
Bay City, MI
(Zone 6a)

November 2, 2009
3:26 AM

Post #7232246

The soil is the foundation of every planting. That you choose wisely is especially important in shallow containers, under indoor conditions, or extended periods when the plant might have a tendency to rest & not grow as robustly as it would during that part of the growth cycle when days are longer (winter). Mixing 1 part of your soil with 4-5 parts of pine bark fines and 1 part of perlite will ensure a durable soil that will remain well-aerated for much longer than a peat-based soil will. Because it will be comprised or particles much larger than peat, it will also hold little or no perched water. This allows you to water copiously each time you water, flushing salts from the soil. Increasing levels of salts, which comes from being forced to water heavy soils in small sips to ward off root rot, makes it increasingly difficult for plants to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water. An excellent goal is to keep the level of soluble salts in the soil as low as you can w/o allowing nutrient levels to go low enough that nutritional deficiencies develop. You can do this by fertilizing frequently with low doses of fertilizer in a favorable ratio, and flushing the soil each time you water.

When you water, at least 15-20% of the total volume you apply should exit the drain hole. If you cannot water this way (to saturation and beyond) w/o risking root rot, your soil ensures a sacrifice in potential vitality and growth that grows commensurately with salts build-up.

For a more thorough understanding of how important soil characteristics are in container culture, the sticky at the top of this forum might help.

Al

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