Indoor gardening

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A Quick Guide to Starting Seeds and Bulbs Indoors

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Do you want to get a head start on the growing season? Grow varieties that are tricky to grow outdoors in the Eastern Ontario climate/soil? Save money when you have a large crop to grow? Have better control over the conditions of growth (temperature, care, products)? No matter the motivation, starting seeds and bulbs indoors is a popular and effective option for many home gardeners. Let’s explore the basics of growing indoors so you can get started!

First Off – Let’s Talk Terminology

Seeds come from plants after they flower. They are the plant’s unit of reproduction, and can develop into another such plant. Seeds come in a variety of sizes and colours.

Cuttings (or slips) come from the mother plant and are planted in a growing medium. They will grow roots and produce a new plant.
Bare root perennials are root masses stored in peat moss. They do not have any food stored within and need to be fertilized.
Seeds, cuttings, and barefoot perennials need to be fertilized.

Bulbs are essentially food storage containers for plants. Everything needed to grow the plant is stored directly in the bulb.
Scarifying is a means of softening seed shells by scratching or cutting the seed to encourage germination.
Stratification is the act of preheating or chilling seeds before planting to encourage germination.

Using Fertilizer

All plantings need fertilizer to grow, except for bulbs. Use a transplanter/starting fertilizer at half the recommended rate of dilution after seedlings have reached the three-leaf stage. Use a transplanter as soon as you plant the roots for bare root perennials.

Dealing with Complications

Damping Off
Damping off is a disease common in seedlings in early development where a spindly stem blackens upon contact with the soil. Damping off causes seedlings to break and die, and can happen very quickly, often in less than a day. The cause is typically excess moisture and/or poor ventilation. There is no treatment, so the only option is prevention. In order to prevent this disease, do not overcrowd the seedling trays – this allows better ventilation. Also ensure that the growing medium has optimal moisture levels.

Spindly/Thin Plants
This is a sign of insufficient light – your plants will grow tall in search of light. Use a light unit with a full spectrum of light so your seedlings develop normally. Ask one of our gardening experts for recommendations, and remember to place your seedlings in the area of your home with the best light exposure.

White Fungus
White fungus (powdery mildew) is a sign of high humidity and/or poor ventilation. The prevention is the same as preventing damping off: do not overcrowd seedling trays and do not overwater the growing medium.

Do not use Tap Water
Tap water is too cold and can chill seedlings. Let water warm to room temperature before watering seedlings, potted perennials, and bulbs. For seedling trays, immerse the tray in tepid water and let drain.

Best of luck with growing indoors! If you have any questions, would like to buy seeds or bulbs, or are in need of gardening accessories, Ritchie Feed & Seed is your one-stop shop! We are Eastern Ontario’s favourite choice for gardening and have convenient locations in Ottawa, Stittsville, Richmond, Brockville, Winchester.

Grow an Indoor Herb Garden This Winter

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There’s nothing better than a home-cooked meal on a cold winter night. Whether you’re preparing a warm winter stew, hearty spaghetti and meatballs garnished with fresh oregano, or easy yet elegant homemade pesto, these are all favourites. Take these dishes to the next level and keep your green thumb in good working order by starting your very own herb garden. Get fresh herbs like basil, oregano, and cilantro whenever you want them, all freshly picked.

Here are few things you should remember when it comes to growing an indoor herb garden during the winter season:

Place near window

Location means a lot when it comes to your herb garden. You need to find a location where they will get a sufficient amount of sunlight, and this usually means placing your herbs close to a window. If your herbs do not get enough light, they will die or grow poorly. Take care of your herbs and they’ll take care of you. Windows facing the southwest are best, but if you live in a north-facing apartment or have otherwise limited access to sunlight, just do the best you can.

Choose the right soil

Should you use outdoor garden soil or a growing medium like peat moss or perlite? It will depend on a lot of factors, like the light, air quality, and temperature of your home. It will also depend on how attentive you are as a herb gardener! Visit Ritchie Feed & Seed in-store and we’ll help to direct you to the right option for your needs so your herbs can thrive.

Give your herbs a weekly shower

We all know how dry the air can get in the winter months. We have lots of remedies for ourselves – lip balm, moisturizer, humidifiers – but what about our plants? Dry air affects the ability of herbs to thrive. Help keep them hydrated by giving them a weekly “shower” with a spritz of water.

Use trusted fertilizer

If you’re growing herbs indoors, you need to put in a bit of extra care because the only nutrients they get are ones you add. If you want your herbs to thrive, use fertilizer from a well-trusted brand. Come into your nearest Ritchie Feed & Seed location and we’ll help you find the right one for you. You would be surprised as to how fresh and fragrant your herbs become when it’s time to harvest.

Now you can grow rosemary, marjoram, parsley, sage, and dozens of other herbs with ease. Are you ready to get started with your first indoor herb garden?




 Botanical name:  Euphorbia pulcherrima

 The plant is native to Mexico and was brought to the US in the 1820s by the American ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett.

 They are available in many colours: red, yellow, peach, pink and ivory.  Some of the varieties include Plum Pudding, Winter Rose and Jingle Bells.


 How to care for them


  • Wrap the plant in a paper bag when transporting the plant.  Do not leave in an unheated vehicle.
  • Place in a room where there is plenty of natural light but keep away from the hot afternoon sun.
  • Keep the plant out or reach of children and/or pets.  The sap from the stems can cause skin irritation. 
  • Poinsettias do not like drafts.  Keep away from hot or cold drafts from appliances,  heaters, ventilation and doors.
  • They hate soggy roots.  After watering thoroughly, discard excess water from the saucer.  If the plant is in a plastic wrapper, poke drain holes in the bottom of wrapper or remove the wrapper.


 Reflowering the poinsettia


  1.  In December, while the plant is in full bloom, water as needed.


  1. When the flower begins to fade, about February, keep near a sunny window and fertilize and new growth appears.  Cut stems back to 8”.


  1. In early June, repot if necessary.  Move outside during the summer, on the east or north side of the house.  Fertilize and water regularly.  Pinch to maintain a short, stocky plant.


  1. In late August, take inside.  Cut stems back leaving 3 to 4 leaves per shoot.  Check for insects.  Put in sunny window.  Water and fertilized as needed.


  1. From mid-September to December 1, keep in light only from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The plant must be put into the dark where there are no lights – not even artificial light.   Even a street lamp or night light can disrupt the night schedule.   Some greenhouses cover them with thick black cloth or another solution is to cover with a cardboard box painted black on the inside.


  1. The key to success is  following the light/dark instructions very carefully.


  1. By November, the plant should start showing colour. 
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