FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. - The warm weather almost has run out of steam and winter is just around the corner, but it does not mean your home has to be bereft of some of the plants, herbs and even vegetables you had on your deck and in your backyard this summer.
For starters and not a moment too soon: Any houseplants you had outdoors for the summer need to come inside, said Regina Regina Campfield, University of Connecticuts master gardener program coordinator for the Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens in Stamford. First, give them a good and thorough watering as well as a gentle but thorough spray over all the leaves to knock off any insects that might be there, she added.
The sooner you can bring your plants indoors, the better, as plants are sensitive to dry heat. Home heating systems, said Campfield, can be extremely drying to houseplants, which should be positioned away from vents and radiators, if possible.
Some annual flowers can thrive indoors, Campfield said. And you can take cuttings of many, such as begonias and specialty cultivars so they can grow inside. And, tender flora, as Campfield refers to them, such as fig, lemon and orange trees can come inside for the winter, although, she said, some people leave fig trees outdoors, wrapped and protected from the elements.
Some herbs fare better than others during the winter months even indoors. Most herbs originally are from the Mediterranean and they like heat. It is hard to re-create that in the average home, Campfield said. However a warm sunny window might coax your basil into continuing to produce its lush and tasty leaves for a few months.
As for fresh vegetables indoors, growing some is less complicated than others. Lettuce is easy to grow with just a good bit of light, said Campfield, but in general she said vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Some people are growing hydroponically in special containers or systems called window farms that can be installed across bright windows, which are most likely supplemented with grow lights.
If those steps are just too much for you to take, then remember, the indoor spring growing season in Fairfield County begins in less than six months.
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