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Volume 13, Issue 46 ~ November 17 - November 24, 2005
The Bay Gardener

By Dr. Frank Gouin

Grow Herbs Indoors Over Winter

With a south-facing window sill, you can have year-round fresh rosemary, thyme and more

Gourmet cooks prefer fresh herbs. Many of the commonly used herbs can be purchased at supermarkets, but there is nothing better than harvesting your own herbs just before using them. Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chives, parsley and oregano can be grown on a windowsill facing south.

If you are already growing them in your garden, then now is the time to dig them up and transplant them into four-inch pots. Clay pots are preferred if you are going to pot them up in garden soil. If you intend to pot them using a soil-less rooting medium, plastic pots are better to prevent them from drying out too rapidly.

During December and January, your herb plants will benefit from additional lighting. Placing a floor lamp with a 100 watt bulb or larger near the plants and have it lit from sunset to about 10pm to help promote better growth.

For maximum flavor, don’t over-fertilize. Monthly feeding with one-half teaspoon of a 20-20-20 water soluble fertilizer per quart of water is ample for plants growing in soilless rooting media. If you are growing your herbs in clay pots filled with your garden soil, you may not need to fertilizer them at all.

Camellias Need Natural Protection

Q Several camelia sasanquas planted last November on the west side of the house had a lot of winter damage, but they came back beautifully. I am thinking of the protection they need in the winter and am considering surrounding them with burlap. Should we make sure the burlap reaches to the top of the shrub?

Do you think it would also be necessary to use Wilt Pruf? 

–Lois Tuwiner

A Camellia plants should never be planted on a western exposure. If you have to protect the plant with burlap every winter, you have lost the beauty of its foliage during those months. I will not give you my blessing with regards to your winter protection method. I can assure you that one year you will neglect your camellia, and the following spring it will be dead. Move the plant to a location where it will receive natural protection.

Plant your camellias on the north to northeast side of the house, where they will be protected from direct wind, and they will do just fine. Plant a hardy cultivar and make certain that they are well watered during August, September and early October. Apply a light mulch in early September.

Wilt Pruf, Vapor Gard and the like do not work and are a waste of money. I spent many years testing these products, hoping they would work, with repeated results showing that they can sometimes do more harm than good.

How to Store Bulbs Over Winter

Q I am digging my dahlias, caladiums, elephant ear, etc this weekend as part of my annual ritual. I dig, dry for a day or two, wrap tightly in newspaper and place in a dark drawer in the lanai, where they stay cool and dry throughout the winter. Am I doing it right?

–Sherry Hayes Chilton, Shady Side

A I dig them, let them dry for a day or two, then dust them with Captan fungicide and pack them with dry peat moss in a bushel basket to store in the garden shed where they will not freeze.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at [email protected]. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.