Growing Herbs Indoors in Canada’s North
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Darren Luck
Posted on: July 27, 2005

To whom it may concern, I will be moving up to North (North!) Western Ontario to teach on a Cree reserve. I will be interested in growing flowers and herbs indoors to allay the long winters. Could you please suggest some seeds that may be grown indoors by students with little botanical experience in conditions where there is likely to be as few as 6-7 hours of natural light in the winter? The students are Cree, and if the herbs have relevance to their culture, it will definitely be a plus.

In the north the quantity of light is low not only because of the shorter days but because the light intensity during the days is also much lower than summer. Herbs need more light. Supplementary artificial light is strongly recommended. You can position your light source to be in the brightest window: that way the plants get both natural and artificial light each day.

For more information on growing herbs indoors, please see the Magazine Rack section of our website.

Provided that the light is supplemented, possible herbs to grow include common herbs such as chives, parsley, mint, oregano, and many others. One herb of particular significance to First Nations people is sweetgrass and we currently have seeds available. Tobacco is also of importance to First Nations people, and while it will germinate and grow indoors, it cannot be expected to produce leaves suited for its traditional ceremonial use (because tobacco needs outdoor summer growing conditions to produce leaves for drying).

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