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Akhnaten
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Indoor cilantro challenge

Hi! This is my second post on this forum. (My first being in the intro subforum.)

This is a bit of a story. Short version: after getting cilantro to grow beautifully on my balcony in a self-watering planter in the summer, I have brought the planter indoors and bought LED grow lights. Now I'm trying to grow a new batch of cilantro alongside a basil and chili plants and am having some difficulty getting them to grow past a rather pathetic stunted stage...as well as other issues with the whole setup.

Longer story: This summer I decided all of a sudden to get into herb gardening after many years of plantlessness. So I am a beginner. I have an ulterior motive -- I love cilantro and it's hard to find in Sweden (at a reasonable price/quantity ratio) without going to Asian supermarkets which are a bit of a trip from my apartment.

Anyway, just before the peak of summer, I bought an 80cm x 20 cm (sorry this is Europe, metricland) self-watering balcony planter. It's the kind with a reservoir on the bottom separated from the soil by a floor with "slits" so presumably the water can get up through the soil. It has a water level measuring stick and a portal above the soil through which one can add water.

I filled it with potting soil from the supermarket and planted coriander, alongside basil and chili as "side-projects", in sections in the same planter and put it out on my balcony, which gets a reasonable amount of sun even though there's some building shadow. The coriander came up splendidly. The basil started but was rather slow, and the chili very reluctant although a couple of plants came up. I used 14-14-14 liquid fertilizer, adding 1 "capful" per liter of water (as the instructions on the bottle), when I topped up the reservoir (ie, I added the fertilizer to the reservoir along with water). Again, for the main purpose, it worked splendidly.

Then I had to leave for a month in the summer and couldn't find someone to top up the reservoir, so I harvested most of the basil and coriander. Because of a drought and unusually hot weather in Sweden, what was left died, except one very hardy chili plant.

The days in Sweden get short quickly, and it started getting windy and colder, so I brought the setup inside and bought two 60-watt LED grow lamps online. They run on a timer for about 14h/day. I replanted everything.

The basil and the chili plants this time came up splendidly, unlike the summer. The coriander also started ... but then it just stopped and started yellowing. Now every time I replant, it comes up, but then just pauses in a holding pattern, and eventually wilts.

But now I see the basil starting to show signs of struggle. The edges of some leaves are starting to dry out, even though the soil is pretty damp, and there are purple blotches on some of the leaves. I checked under the basil plants for signs of mold or infestation, I don't see any directly on the plants. Some of the plants are still reasonably healthy and the flavor of the leaves is excellent.

The "summer survivor" chili is starting to bloom, however, my attempts at pollinating it with a q-tip have left the first two blossoms fall off (there's still a bunch more buds that haven't yet bloomed). And while a couple of the younger chili plants look super healthy, the remainder are still producing leaves but rather stunted ones, folded over a little bit and wrinkly.

One thing that is different about what I am doing, aside from being indoors (central AC/heating at a constant temperature), is that the water in the reservoir declines much more slowly, and the soil seems somewhat damper to the touch. Because the water declines more slowly, I top it off less often, which means I use less fertilizer (for a while it was once every 3 weeks or so). There are also little fruit fly-like things flying around that I have read are harmless ("fungus gnats") living on things in the soil...is this right?

But the biggest thing that concerns me is the new difficulty with the cilantro/coriander. Everything I have read suggests that I am either over or under fertilizing it, but it's hard to tell which. My fertilizer-adding frequency has declined, but I don't want to keep adding fertilizer to the reservoir without adding water. Is the soil staying too damp? Should I fertilize from the top, or not at all? Should I start over?

Thanks in advance if you managed to bear with all of this, from a plant newbie who decided to jump straight into the deep end.

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applestar
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Looks like a really fun winter project and I really want you to succeed! :-()


- OK, so I’m thinking you are fertilizing more than you need. If the soil mix is getting too rich, the seeds will have trouble germinating and growing.
- basil and pepper probably germinated well due to warmer temperatures. Cilantro doesn’t germinate well in warmer temperatures but prefers cooler temperatures when basil and pepper in particular won’t germinate well.
- Ideally with container gardening, you would “flush” the chemical fertilizer salts from the soil by watering from the top and allowing the excess to run out, which you would not keep. In the case of sub-irrigated planter (SIP) like yours, I’m not sure what the solution would be except to only water with de-chlorinated water for a while.
- Fungus gnat poluplation in the soil may also have reached the point when the larvae/maggots are attacking the tender new roots. New seedlings and Peppers are susceptible to this due to slow root growth. I use Bt israelensis — bacteria that is used to control mosquitos from breeding, wh9ch is also effective for fungus gnats. Do they sell this where you are? Look in pond supply.
- you can’t allow the entire container to dry out, but maybe allow the reservoir to dry enough that you are only adding enough for water to be absorbed by the soil but not standing water in the reservoir. And occasionally water from the top when top of the soil feels dry - nothing sticks when you press finger in it. Not forever, but just for a couple of weeks to a month to help reduce the fertilizer levels and make things less comfortable for the moisture-loving fungus gnats.
- the excess dampness may have invited fungal disease — maybe post photos of the basil? A PERSONAL FAN on a timer for more air circulation is best but strategic placement and making use of thermodynamic air currents could help, too.
- Note that IF you let the wicking soil dry out, the capillary action will be interrupted so you want to keep the potting mix in the bottom of the planter moist enough

- now 60W LED... does that mean 60W equivalent? Ideally, you want brightness that is 100-150W equivalent. Plant lights usually need to be very close. Show us how you have them positioned.

- pepper pollination — pepper blossoms are delicate and their floral structure is designed to respond to buzzing of the bees to drop pollen onto the flower’s own stigma/female part. So all you have to do is either lightly flick the floral stem with your fingers or get yourself a cheap electric toothbrush and gently touch to upper curve of the floral truss/stem with the buzzing toothbrush.
- Peppers make wonderful winter houseplant. They need bright enough light to read a book by, and daytime temperatures in the 60’s °F or warmer and with minimum night time temperature of about 55°F to keep blooming and setting fruits. They might take a break from blooming or setting fruits in the darkest depth of winter during Persephone days or between winter solstice until late January (or possibly even later where you are, unless you provide more light?)

- basil needs to be in similar temperatures as the pepper

- cilantro can take much much colder temperatures and will not like the hotter temperatures those other two prefer — you may eventually choose to keep cilantro in a separate container to meet the different needs
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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Thanks for your answer!
applestar wrote:Looks like a really fun winter project and I really want you to succeed! :-()


- OK, so I’m thinking you are fertilizing more than you need. If the soil mix is getting too rich, the seeds will have trouble germinating and growing.
OK, so I will cut it out for a while with the fertilizer. And water from the top until the plants have somehow used up the existing fertilizer.
- basil and pepper probably germinated well due to warmer temperatures. Cilantro doesn’t germinate well in warmer temperatures but prefers cooler temperatures when basil and pepper in particular won’t germinate well.
This is what I have read, but this is the weird part. We had a really hot summer in Sweden, but the cilantro sprouted beautifully outside in the hot sun. The rest had trouble. My apartment is cooler than the outdoor summer temperatures, but I am having the opposite experience.
- Fungus gnat poluplation in the soil may also have reached the point when the larvae/maggots are attacking the tender new roots. New seedlings and Peppers are susceptible to this due to slow root growth. I use Bt israelensis — bacteria that is used to control mosquitos from breeding, wh9ch is also effective for fungus gnats. Do they sell this where you are? Look in pond supply.
This appears to be available online in Sweden from pest control companies. Do I add it to the water or just sprinkle it on?
- you can’t allow the entire container to dry out, but maybe allow the reservoir to dry enough that you are only adding enough for water to be absorbed by the soil but not standing water in the reservoir. And occasionally water from the top when top of the soil feels dry - nothing sticks when you press finger in it. Not forever, but just for a couple of weeks to a month to help reduce the fertilizer levels and make things less comfortable for the moisture-loving fungus gnats.
OK that must be it then. I will let the water levels drop until the top of the soil is dryer and then try and plant the coriander again.
- the excess dampness may have invited fungal disease — maybe post photos of the basil? A PERSONAL FAN on a timer for more air circulation is best but strategic placement and making use of thermodynamic air currents could help, too.
The air is circulated constantly in my building but this is an interesting idea. Should the fan be on the same timer as the LED?
- now 60W LED... does that mean 60W equivalent? Ideally, you want brightness that is 100-150W equivalent. Plant lights usually need to be very close. Show us how you have them positioned.
I will post a pic soon. They're actually two sets of four 30W-equivalent lamps on a kind of "clip-on desk lamp" arrangement with bendy stalks. They're clipped directly to the planter, roughly evenly spaced and about 20-30 cm above the plants.
- pepper pollination — pepper blossoms are delicate and their floral structure is designed to respond to buzzing of the bees to drop pollen onto the flower’s own stigma/female part. So all you have to do is either lightly flick the floral stem with your fingers or get yourself a cheap electric toothbrush and gently touch to upper curve of the floral truss/stem with the buzzing toothbrush.
OK, I saw a bunch of videos where people were running cotton swabs around the inside of the flowers but maybe this is too harsh for these plants.
- cilantro can take much much colder temperatures and will not like the hotter temperatures those other two prefer — you may eventually choose to keep cilantro in a separate container to meet the different needs
OK, I don't have much power to have different temperatures in my (small-ish, by American standards) apartment. However, I may eventually have to consider a different planter for the cilantro anyway because it is starting to seem as though most of its needs are really different -- and it was the original point of the whole exercise!

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

I don't know. Cilantro does like cooler weather, but they don't like cold. The cold may be slowing the germination. Cilantro grows well for me at temperatures between 65-80. You can test the seeds. Soak the seeds overnight in warm water. Put seeds on a damp paper towel inside a ziploc bag and keep the bag in a warm place or on a heat mat set on low. Start checking the seeds around 10 days later for germination. Cilantro can germinate in about a week or up to 3 weeks later.

If you are keeping your room cold, and the light is diminished. The plants will grow slower. Put the plants on a shelf with a fluorescent fixture 4-6 inches above the plants for 14-16 hours a day. Fluorescents don't generate that much heat, but try to keep the plants in an area that will be at least 65 degrees (70 would be better).
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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Have been busy for a couple of days, but I definitely wanted to get back to you.

This is my indoor gardening setup. Note that before today, it had been sitting on the floor, but I just built an IKEA (this is Sweden after all :P ) shelf for it.
IMG_20181027_2305071.jpg
There are four LED bulbs, 30W equivalent each (so 120W), each of them delivering a mix of red, blue, UV, white. It's on a timer for 14 hours starting from 5am through 7pm. I however noticed that the electronic timer outlet "leaks" electrically (cheap garbage it seems, yes that exists in Sweden too alas) and there is a little bit of light at all times.

The basil is still doing on the whole quite well, but nothing else is:
IMG_20181027_2305132.jpg
This is the top of one of the basil leaves that has purple blotches on it:
IMG_20181027_2305484.jpg
The light's not so great, but here is the underside:
IMG_20181027_2305568.jpg
Most of the basil is still pretty healthy and after I pruned off some of the less healthy big ones, the rest have started to come up larger. I have used it in multiple dishes so far, superb taste. This is (so far) my only post-summer success story. I am trying to get back to where I was before I left for a month when Sweden was on fire and in drought.

More pics to come, just want to see if this uploads correctly.

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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

OK that worked without me hitting a picture posting limit. Hurrah!

Here is the chili section next to the basil. The "bottom-most" plant is the "summer survivor" that had just started blooming. Unfortunately the two blossoms just fell off and now, the buds that looked most promising have just...stopped, and are dry and dessicated.
IMG_20181027_2305176.jpg
Some of the others that were healthy are now dying, and I think one has just died for good I think. However, I looked under the leaves of one of them, and what did i find...
IMG_20181027_2306264.jpg
Some but not all of the leaves have these little white bumps. My first hunch is that I have an infestation of some insect, but my web searches show a second possibility, some kind of edema caused by a combination of overwatering and underfertilization.

Here is the water meter stick:
IMG_20181027_2306452.jpg
It has two lines marking the "optimal bounds" for water level according to the manufacturer. I have been trying to keep it at the "top" bound. In the summer, outside in the heat (when the cilantro thrived!) the water level dropped quickly, and I added water and fertilizer almost weekly. Now it declines very slowly. I have let it now go down to half and will instead be trying to keep it close to the *bottom* of the official optimum range. The very top of the soil is a little dryer/crustier now, but it is very moist still right under the surface.

And now...for the cilantro, which was the point of all of this.

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

This is one of the failing, sad cilantro plants that have been struggling for weeks now:
IMG_20181027_2306340.jpg
Some of its generation have already died and are turning to compost. No sign of infestation that I can tell on them.

I had planted another generation, and it is doing better *up to now*:
IMG_20181027_2305235.jpg
They are still standing up, some of the leaves are still green, and they are still growing---slowly. I don't know how long they will last, but I'm guessing likely not longer than their elder siblings.

So if the problem is overfertilization, should I just wait for everything to die and replant everything with basil for a while, since basil seems to like the situation and might soak up the extra nutrients? Then I can try again with chili and cilantro while keeping the water level somewhat lower. My naive instinct tells me though, that when things don't grow, they aren't getting enough food...

Another possibility is that they just all can't grow together, and the cilantro has to be moved elsewhere (new box, more grow lights? This is getting to be quite expensive cilantro!). Of course, then, what about the chilis?

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Did you replant the original planter with the new plants or did you wash out the planter, start with new soil and transplant the chili.
I know in the sips, the soil starts to build up fungi and bacteria and not always the kind you want. I always wash the SIP (self irrigated planter) with bleach before I reuse it and I start with new soil. The old soil is usually quite odorous and almost slimy with algae, so I do not keep it. Sometimes you can reuse potting soil, but I have not had luck with it. I did find out the last time I experimented with it, that one of the problems was that I underestimated the nutrient loss in the soil and the plants were much smaller until I gave them a healthy dose of fertilizer. I have not had luck using only old potting soil, so I usually recycle the potting soil in the garden and start new. I did try using 60% old soil and 40% new soil and it worked out better with the extra fertilizer. It still was not as good as starting with new potting soil. The other thing is that it is hard for me to know how much fertilizer to add to an old system without testing it.

The reason I like the fluorescents is because they have the light spectrum that the plants need and are cheap. They also do generate a little more heat than LED's. Halogens would provide the most warmth, but they can be dangerous because they can get too hot.

The basil leaf does look like it has some kind of fungus and the cilantro looks waterlogged and it may not be getting enough nutrients. I don't know how old the plants are but they seem small. It could be because they are colder and growing slower or because they don't have enough available nutrients, or if there are pathogens in the soil, the roots may be damaged.

https://www.hgtv.com/outdoors/gardens/p ... tting-soil
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applestar
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

I haven’t used synthetic fertilizers in a while so I really would like someone else who has seen this recently to confirm...

...but to me, those white with yellow-orange patches look like crusty fertilizer salt blooms that develop on the surface of the soil as the moisture is wicked up and evaporates. (Do you remember the chemistry experiment to wick up a solution on a filter paper and see the bands form higher and higher as the solution evaporates?) I think I’m also seeing evidence of this along the container wall where at the surface of the potting mix ends. These usually start out white, but turn yellow.orange.tan. (I can’t remember what the source of discoloration is — is it dissolved minerals or algae/mildew?)

If the potting mix is to the point where the accumulated salts are crystallizing on the surface, then the high concentration of salts/fertilizer could definitely affect the seedlings. One solution may be to skim the crusty soil from the surface (top 1-2 inches) and replace just the surface potting mix (but this requires sacrificing the current growth ....)

Here’s a reference —
:arrow: White Crust on Soil - Houseplants | University of Maryland Extension
https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/white-cr ... ouseplants


...However, this could also be simply an indication that you have hard water (calcium/lime/mineral rich water) if you are using water directly from the faucet. You may need to use filtered water or collected rain/snowmelt water.

...if I remember correctly, one test is to try putting what I think might be crystallized salts or mineral deposits in water. If they dissolve quickly then they are likely salts, but if they are mineral deposits, then they should not. If these are calcium deposits, then placed in vinegar, then they should dissolve within a day)

...Note that the discolored white lumps might be just perlite — we are concerned with the clusters of white that built up on the surface.
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

The crusty white things are mostly perlite dust. Fertilizer would show up as a white film also around the edges. You can see that better if you pull the soil away from the sides or look around the drain overflow. There will always be some film, not just because of fertilizer but because of the minerals in the water. The reason I think this is older soil is because it almost looks green and it looks compacted. Even in a SIP soil compaction can starve roots of oxygen. Because SIPS water reservoir is reused, I think as the plants take up the water and in my climate at least with evaporation, salts can accumulate even faster especially if you don't make a habit of either using filtered water or flushing out the SIP at least once or twice a month. Usually I use a very lite mix of peat lite. The top of the soil in the SIP is relatively loose but the bottom is muck and stinky which is why I don't reuse the soil in the SIP. When I used an organic potting mix, the soil was like concrete and some of the plants yellowed and died and amazingly some survived but looked less healthy than ones I grew in peatlite. I put fertilizer in both systems, I just used less than what was recommended.My 18 gallon rubbermaid SIP calls for 2 cups of synthetic or 3 cups of organic fertilizer. I use 1/2 cup of synthetic instead. I mix it in instead of band it. I get a lot less leftover fertilizer in the bin that way. I have a 5 gallon reservoir and 10 gallons of soil. The SIP with the organic potting mix did actually go dry and that may be why some of the plants died, even though the soil itself remained hard and did not dry out.
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Cilantro is tricky to grow it likes cool weather and bolts in hot weather. I bought a small electric heating pad to germinate seeds. Wrap seeds in wet paper towel put them inside a zip lock plastic bag then place them on the electric heating pad, make 3 of these. Place 1 right on the pad. Cover one with a towel to keep it warmer. Wrap 1 bag of seeds inside a towel put it on the heating pad. Keep house temperature about 72 F. The bag that is the correct temperature will germinate. I have grown cilantro in small pots of soil inside a zip lock bag set in window so it gets warmer during the day in the sunlight. Some times cilantro germinates in a week other times it takes 2 weeks. I try to duplicate mother nature the best I can a small fan blowing on my plants keeps mine from getting stem rot and dying. Fertilizer is very tricky for me I have better luck mixing garden soil with water then water my house plants with the dirty water. This summer I grew 5 cilantro plants just for seeds to plant all winter but so far I have not growing any cilantro in the house, soon as I get in the mood maybe I will. Only plant I have in the house at the moment is oregano in a 2 gallon pot I water it with a few ice cubes every day.

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Hi, didn't check in in a while. Yes, the soil was the same soil I had used outside in the summer. I had thought that I had been developing a nice ecosystem in there, but apparently not all ecosystems are "good". :p

After letting it run a little longer, the chili plants simply wilted and died all at once, mostly. The cilantro remained in a stalled state, or died.

I decided to let the reservoir dry out, so I could follow imafan's advice and just start with new soil. Indoors, it took a surprisingly long time, and even after the reservoir was basically empty, the soil was still *pretty* damp. There were still (!) some perfectly nice basil plants left. About 30%, small but in green edible condition. I harvested and used them in pasta, then I dumped out the soil.

The reservoir turned out to be covered in scaly brownish mineral residue. I had wondered whether it was over-fertilization or under-fertilization that had caused the problem, but I guess it is over-fertilization via the reservoir. I should fertilize from the top and just put water only in the reservoir.

Anyway, I bleached the reservoir and scrubbed it out. I couldn't get rid of *all* the mineral residue, but I assume a little bit left inside is not going to hurt anything.

I have bought new soil, but I haven't set everything back up again. I have a few weeks before another long trip, but indoors it seems like half a reservoir is plenty. How should I proceed? For the sake of science, I was thinking of just doing mostly the same thing, but with new soil, to see whether it is use of the old soil that did it in. That, and using fertilizer only maybe once a month, from the top. (The garden store here told me that fresh potting soil has only enough nutrients for about a month).

I am able to get everything to germinate, but not come to full growth, it seems. Well, not indoors, at least. In the summer everything worked beautifully except for the chilis.

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

I would use about 1/4 cup of fertilizer. The SIP instructions say to band it, but I mix mine into the soil. I usually start with starts and not seeds in the pot. If you are going to start with seed, then it is probably easier to put a band of fertilizer in about 2 weeks after the seedlings come up. Some seedlings will have trouble if there is too much nitrogen available while it is trying to germinate. If your water has a lot of chlorine or salts in it, use distilled water. It won't add additional salt. The fertilizer will have some salts.
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

To band it, what does that mean? The links suggest that that is something you do during planting.

So basically if I plant today, I will have approx 3 weeks before I am away for approx a month. Previous experience shows that the plants will take about 2 weeks to germinate (at least the cilantro), meaning I'll be able to view some growth for about a week before I leave. I was thinking of sprinkling diluted fertilizer over everything just before I leave. Does that make sense?

The local authorities report that the water here is very soft.

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

It's been my understanding that for SIPs, potting soil is not a good thing to use. You want a peat based mix, as it is superior for wicking, and keeps the wicking ability; coir seems to lose this in a couple of years, as it decomposes faster. Think about how long peat sits in those bogs. Add some vermiculite and/or perlite - about 15-20%. Supposedly worm castings are one organic fertilizer that can be added - about 15%, without affecting the wicking. Compost, potting soil, and similar items, are not good, though you may get a decent crop the first year. I use Promix BX, but have also made my own mix, with a base of peat, plus a little bit of coir (before I found out that it wasn't the best for this).

I fertilize with a granular 10-10-10 fertilizer, and I put it in a piece of brewing sock - fabric designed to hold flavorings in beer while it is brewing, which can be removed easily. I put 2 c fertilizer (in a new box) in one of these, and stretch it down the middle of a 2 cu ft SIP, if it will have plants on both sides, and I put it on one side, if it will just have 2 or 3 plants on the other side, as with tomatoes, peppers, and egg plants.

I have had SIPs produce well for 2-3 years, but after that, they needed at least a 25% change, adding more peat to the mix. All those old roots composting in them I guess added too much organic matter - good in the garden, but it messes up the wicking and aeration of an SIP. However, I never found much deposit in the reservoirs. The only fertilizer I have added, besides, the granular, is calcium nitrate (a good boost for tomatoes, every couple of weeks) and some hydroponics micro-nutrients, which I add in the beginning of each season. And a couple of times I have added a soluble "bloom" fertilizer, to trigger some determinate tomatoes or peppers to bloom again, after the first harvest, though most do it on their own.
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

I'm late into this discussion; have little experience with container gardening and even less with indoor. Still I'm curious about a couple of things:

Akhnaten, (sun-worshipper? A friend has a statuesque dog called Anubis) - when I grow pepper, basil & coriander in the garden they all grow quite tall, especially the coriander. I call it that because I'm not very keen on the flavour of cilantro - likely it's an 'acquired' taste - but I love coriander; now there's a puzzle?

Anyway ... my coriander plants get 2 to 3+ feet high, skinny stems with very little cilantro foliage but lots of seed. I grow them in tomato cages. Peppers & basil are more like 1.5 to 2 feet and fairly bushy, specially the basil. So I have a couple of comments/questions; maybe for the forum since you yourself haven't grown them in the ground....

Aren't the plants in these photos relatively stunted by comparison with garden-grown specimens? And more generally: How is it possible to give adequate light from overhead, to tall plants? I'm used to raising early transplants under fluorescents where it's commonly advised that the lights must be only a few inches above the plants. But how well can a plant grow when all but the topmost leaves are distant from the light? It's something I've often wondered and this thread brings it up for me. Oh, and is there a particular variety of cilantro that makes lots of foliage? mine doesn't.

"Ak," (if I can be so familiar) you said 'sorry this is Europe, metricland'. I'm going to post a little ramble about metric/imperial back-&-forthing in the Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo forum, just for fun.
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

Vanisle_BC wrote:I'm late into this discussion; have little experience with container gardening and even less with indoor. Still I'm curious about a couple of things:

Akhnaten, (sun-worshipper? A friend has a statuesque dog called Anubis) - when I grow pepper, basil & coriander in the garden they all grow quite tall, especially the coriander. I call it that because I'm not very keen on the flavour of cilantro - likely it's an 'acquired' taste - but I love coriander; now there's a puzzle?
"Akhnaten" mainly because of the Philip Glass opera and being an ancient world aficionado. ;)

I have a supertaster friend who can eat coriander seeds/power but not cilantro leaves (tastes like eating soap). Cilantro leaves contain presumably some essential oil that is missing in the seeds, probably a pest deterrent that works on some but not all humans (I'm guessing without looking it up). However, you can't have real authentic home-cooked food of particular East and South and Southeast Asian varieties without cilantro leaves, among other cuisines -- they leave it out in many restaurants because of the supertaster problem.
Anyway ... my coriander plants get 2 to 3+ feet high, skinny stems with very little cilantro foliage but lots of seed. I grow them in tomato cages. Peppers & basil are more like 1.5 to 2 feet and fairly bushy, specially the basil. So I have a couple of comments/questions; maybe for the forum since you yourself haven't grown them in the ground....

Aren't the plants in these photos relatively stunted by comparison with garden-grown specimens? And more generally: How is it possible to give adequate light from overhead, to tall plants? I'm used to raising early transplants under fluorescents where it's commonly advised that the lights must be only a few inches above the plants. But how well can a plant grow when all but the topmost leaves are distant from the light? It's something I've often wondered and this thread brings it up for me. Oh, and is there a particular variety of cilantro that makes lots of foliage? mine doesn't.
The entire reason for this thread was that my plants were stunted. I had much better growth in the summer, but I think the issue is soil more than light. The cilantro I was growing seems to be (when working right) of the "lots of foliage" variety rather than height, but I was also strategically harvesting in the summer, which leads to a bushier plant.
"Ak," (if I can be so familiar) you said 'sorry this is Europe, metricland'. I'm going to post a little ramble about metric/imperial back-&-forthing in the Non-Gardening Related Hoo-ha and Foo forum, just for fun.
LOL

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

I so use the MG potting soil, not the moisture control one. It is mainly peat moss and perlite with a tiny amount of fertilizer which I consider negligible. I usually do make my own potting soil and do 50/50 peat lite (peat moss and perlite). In my SIP i add 1/2 cup general purpose fertilizer which I mix into the soil when the SIP is set up.

The first time I made a SIP from a rubbermaid tub, I had a 5 gallon reservoir and 10 gallons of soil. The original directions called for 2 cups of all purpose fertilizer (banded) or 3 cups organic fertilizer. The tomato did fine in the SIP, but at the end of the season I had a lot of unused fertilizer still banded in the SIP. That is why I switched to 1/2 cup of fertilizer mixed in. I supplemented with 1 tablespoon a month of additional AP fertilizer once the tomato started flowering, and continued until the tomatoes were done. I ended up using about 2 cups of fertilizer in all, but there was not a lot of fertilizer left in the SIP that way.

I have also put miracle grow fertilizer in the SIP when I used organic soil (which was a mistake). The organic soil was about 50% dirt and rocks. It was not only heavy, it was hard as a rock. It drained well but the plants were not happy. There was not enough fertilizer in the organic potting mix and the plants were very stunted so I had to add the miracle gro. It did better but not as good as when the fertilizer was put in from the beginning.

I have added miracle gro to the reservoir and it does work. It worked better with a granular fertilizer, but I only put a small amount of miracle gro in the reservoir since I did not want to over do it.

Some of the reasons why your plants are so small may be because of the crowding. Your basil is very closely planted and will need to be thinned.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

pepperhead212 wrote:It's been my understanding that for SIPs, potting soil is not a good thing to use. You want a peat based mix, as it is superior for wicking, and keeps the wicking ability; coir seems to lose this in a couple of years, as it decomposes faster. Think about how long peat sits in those bogs. Add some vermiculite and/or perlite - about 15-20%. Supposedly worm castings are one organic fertilizer that can be added - about 15%, without affecting the wicking. Compost, potting soil, and similar items, are not good, though you may get a decent crop the first year. I use Promix BX, but have also made my own mix, with a base of peat, plus a little bit of coir (before I found out that it wasn't the best for this).

I fertilize with a granular 10-10-10 fertilizer, and I put it in a piece of brewing sock - fabric designed to hold flavorings in beer while it is brewing, which can be removed easily. I put 2 c fertilizer (in a new box) in one of these, and stretch it down the middle of a 2 cu ft SIP, if it will have plants on both sides, and I put it on one side, if it will just have 2 or 3 plants on the other side, as with tomatoes, peppers, and egg plants.

I have had SIPs produce well for 2-3 years, but after that, they needed at least a 25% change, adding more peat to the mix. All those old roots composting in them I guess added too much organic matter - good in the garden, but it messes up the wicking and aeration of an SIP. However, I never found much deposit in the reservoirs. The only fertilizer I have added, besides, the granular, is calcium nitrate (a good boost for tomatoes, every couple of weeks) and some hydroponics micro-nutrients, which I add in the beginning of each season. And a couple of times I have added a soluble "bloom" fertilizer, to trigger some determinate tomatoes or peppers to bloom again, after the first harvest, though most do it on their own.
Alas, I probably won't get around to doing anything better than potting soil this time around. The potting soil I've been using seemed to have no trouble with water uptake (is that what you mean by wicking?) from the reservoir, however, but I now see how it is not a long-term solution. However, I have a choice between getting something started now, or doing a lot of research I don't have time to do now and getting started in the spring, as I have to buy all this stuff in Swedish, which I don't yet speak well. Plus putting together mixes in my apartment is a complex operation, it was already a big mess to get rid of the old soil, and it's wintertime and dark most of the time. In the summer, when I will probably have to start again, it will be more feasible to think of complex soil operations.

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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

imafan26 wrote:I so use the MG potting soil, not the moisture control one. It is mainly peat moss and perlite with a tiny amount of fertilizer which I consider negligible. I usually do make my own potting soil and do 50/50 peat lite (peat moss and perlite). In my SIP i add 1/2 cup general purpose fertilizer which I mix into the soil when the SIP is set up.

The first time I made a SIP from a rubbermaid tub, I had a 5 gallon reservoir and 10 gallons of soil. The original directions called for 2 cups of all purpose fertilizer (banded) or 3 cups organic fertilizer. The tomato did fine in the SIP, but at the end of the season I had a lot of unused fertilizer still banded in the SIP. That is why I switched to 1/2 cup of fertilizer mixed in. I supplemented with 1 tablespoon a month of additional AP fertilizer once the tomato started flowering, and continued until the tomatoes were done. I ended up using about 2 cups of fertilizer in all, but there was not a lot of fertilizer left in the SIP that way.
Again, I'm still not entirely sure how this "banding" technique works. I will mix in an equivalent quantity of fertilizer (once I've done conversion to metric 8) ) into the soil as I put the soil in however, this seems doable.
I have also put miracle grow fertilizer in the SIP when I used organic soil (which was a mistake). The organic soil was about 50% dirt and rocks. It was not only heavy, it was hard as a rock. It drained well but the plants were not happy. There was not enough fertilizer in the organic potting mix and the plants were very stunted so I had to add the miracle gro. It did better but not as good as when the fertilizer was put in from the beginning.

I have added miracle gro to the reservoir and it does work. It worked better with a granular fertilizer, but I only put a small amount of miracle gro in the reservoir since I did not want to over do it.
I don't think we have miracle gro here. I have been using the supermarket formula. I'd post a link to it but it's in Swedish and the supermarket wants you to put in a Swedish zip code before it shows you any details.
Some of the reasons why your plants are so small may be because of the crowding. Your basil is very closely planted and will need to be thinned.
Well, it's all gone now. The basil and chili were a sideshow, the main point was to get a lot of homegrown cilantro so I didn't have to cross town to get it from specialty stores, since it's a niche product in Sweden. The issue for me was the stunting of the cilantro. I did exactly the same thing with it as I did in the summer, but indoors and with the old soil. In the summer, it grew beautifully. On the second round, badly. I'm hoping that the problem is the reused potting soil.

If I had kept going with the old soil, I would have replanted the whole thing with basil spaced out more widely, because the basil for the most part seemed to succeed except a few plants developing purpling. Then as you say, I might have gotten bigger basil plants. But, it's all gone now. New soil.

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Akhnaten
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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

So it is done. I replenished the container with new soil, about 15L of (sorry) storebought potting soil, which seems quite "peaty" here in Sweden but there is definitely also compost in it. I put it in in two layers, after each layer adding a capful of storebought "växtnäring", liquid fertilizer, and breaking up the soil and mixing by hand (done in my shower stall so easy to clean up).

Then I planted 18 coriander seeds in three rows, 5 chili seeds (that's all I had left, it turned out), and 9-ish basil seeds in 3x3 formation, although sometimes my planting tweezers picked up more than one basil seed, they're so small. This is considerably more thinly planted than my previous attempts. I have watered them from the top and in a couple of days, I will fill the reservoir halfway. The grow lamps are attached and in formation again. I expect to see some shoots in 2-3 weeks.

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Re: Indoor cilantro challenge

There are different methods of applying fertilizer. The instructions in th postoilsolutions link for the earthbox says to band the fertilizer and to use potting soil. It specifically says not to use water soluble.

Banding fertilizer puts the fertilizer at the root zone, especially phosphorus which is relatively immobile and can become bound to the soil if it is spread out. It is often used in no till and by commercial corn growers since it is more cost effective to band fertilizer, rather than spread it out over and entire field and they have machines which can band and plant at the same time.

Water soluble fertilizer are probably the most expensive fertilizer you can use. It is good if you really need a quick boost, but probably not the best as a maintenance fertilizer. Water soluble fertilizers have higher numbers and are high nitrogen, so they can potentially burn plants if they are too concentrated. High nitrogen is not desirable when you are seeding since high nitrogen levels in the soil can prevent seeds from germinating properly and promote dampening off.

The albopepper link describes setting up the soil mix and fertilizer for the SIP and also discusses how you can reuse your soil.

I still think your plants are too close and that contributes to the stunting. You need to get better air circulation. A fan might help.
I don't know if the LED lights are enough. A fluorescent fixture may be better.


https://albopepper.com/setting-up-sip-po ... year-1.php
https://courses.cit.cornell.edu/css412/ ... m5_pg4.htm
https://www.postoilsolutions.org/documents/Earthbox.pdf
https://www.cals.uidaho.edu/edcomm/pdf/cis/cis0757.pdf
https://agritech.tnau.ac.in/agriculture/ ... appln.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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