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USU Extension offers tips for indoor gardeners

By By TAUN BEDDES
USU Extension horticulturist

During the winter, many miss fresh garden produce and some are even willing to try growing it indoors so they can enjoy eating it.

Consider these tips.

* West or south-facing windows provide sufficient light for many crops. Another option is inexpensive florescent lighting. The key factor to using this is that the light must be within approximately 6 inches of the plants. Incandescent bulbs should not be used since the wavelengths of light they produce are not readily utilized by plants.

* Grow plants at an appropriate temperature. A good temperature for most plants is around 70 F.

* Grow plants in potting soil rather than soil from the garden. Once plants have been growing for about a month, they often require fertilizer to keep them healthy. Mild, liquid house plant formulations or slow release granular products such as Osmocote™ work well.

* Monitor plants closely for insect pests and diseases. When a plant appears to be infested, isolate it from the others to prevent further spread. Heavily infested plants should be thrown away.

* Lettuce, peas and many herbs generally work well when grown indoors. Dwarf varieties of peas or other crops that may grow too large for limited indoor spaces can be used. These are often available from online seed companies and sometimes from local retailers.

The USU Crop Physiology Lab has specifically researched growing crops in artificial environments such as indoor spaces for many years and has identified several "super dwarf" species, including Early Green Pea and Microtina Tomato. These varieties and others have actually been grown on space shuttles or the space station. For more information about starting seeds indoors and how to purchase these specific crops, visit the USU Crop Physiology Lab webpage at: http://www.usu.edu/cpl/outreach.htm.

Direct column topics to Julene Reese, Utah State University Extension writer, Logan, Utah, 84322-4900, 435-797-0810; julene.reese@usu.edu.




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