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Sustainable gardening pebble substitute? and some questions about growing mint indoors  RSS feed

 
Posts: 5
Location: Montreal
food preservation cooking urban
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Hi all, I'm a beginner indoor gardener living in an urban setting, so please let me know if this is better suited for the 'gardening for beginners' forum. I recently started growing some mint inside my apartment, which has been a bit difficult. I thought it wasn't getting enough water, so I set up a wick watering system. Soon enough, the perpetually wet soil let a colony of fruit flies germinate. I know that covering the soil with a layer of pebbles or rocks should alleviate this problem, but I'm very reluctant to go out and simply buy these rocks because of the cost, weight (I don't have a car), and support of consumerism.

So, what might be some suitable and more sustainable alternatives to gardening pebbles? I have been considering breaking up some glass bottles that I can't use and trying out the shards; then again, I'm not too keen on slicing my hand open when I go to repot this plant. I've thought about going out and picking up some gravel in a park, but this seems a bit silly. If you can offer any recommendations, I'd appreciate it, as this would have many applications for indoor gardening/urban agriculture.

As an aside, if you're familiar with mint; how do you keep your plants happy? It has enough water, heat (is on a windowsill right above a baseboard heater), and sun, but does not seem content at all. Do you need to harvest its leaves periodically? Any general advice on this plant would be appreciated as well. Thanks!
 
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For indoor plants one of the nicest looking and effective mulch materials are glass beads found at hobby lobby and other craft stores.
These come in a variety of colors as well as clear and they will last forever, no sharp edges, easy to clean too.

Most people who grow mint indoors don't put in where it can get enough sunlight and that causes spindly plant growth, over watering is the second largest mistake.
Mints do grow well indoors but they need at least 6 hours of sunlight, out doors you want morning light and afternoon shade, same holds true for indoor plants.
Alternately you can use grow lights, which will work well for just about any plant you would want to grow indoors.
 
pollinator
Posts: 409
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
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As your location says Montreal, I would say it's not getting enough sunlight;  mine don't either, so I've stopped trying to keep them indoors over winter, but instead try to harvest and dry enough for my needs until they regrow next April/May.  

For decorative mulch, I collect smooth, white beach pebbles whevener we visit the seaside.  I take a couple of bags:  one for seaweed for the garden, and the other for pretty stones.  We only go to the seaside a few times a year, so it's a gradual process.  Maybe there's a river near you?  Otherwise, maybe a thick straw mulch or similar might be enough to discourage flies.  Dried cut grass or yard trimmings cut in small pieces?  Coconut coir?  
 
Branden On
Posts: 5
Location: Montreal
food preservation cooking urban
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:For indoor plants one of the nicest looking and effective mulch materials are glass beads found at hobby lobby and other craft stores.
These come in a variety of colors as well as clear and they will last forever, no sharp edges, easy to clean too.

Most people who grow mint indoors don't put in where it can get enough sunlight and that causes spindly plant growth, over watering is the second largest mistake.
Mints do grow well indoors but they need at least 6 hours of sunlight, out doors you want morning light and afternoon shade, same holds true for indoor plants.
Alternately you can use grow lights, which will work well for just about any plant you would want to grow indoors.



I live right by a craft store, so I'll definitely take a look at those beads. Sometimes proper aesthetics (and function) are worth shelling out the extra dollars.

As for the mint, I'll try watering less, and maybe that grow lamp; I just replaced all my lights with LEDs so I have a surplus of CFL bulbs.
 
Branden On
Posts: 5
Location: Montreal
food preservation cooking urban
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Galadriel Freden wrote:As your location says Montreal, I would say it's not getting enough sunlight;  mine don't either, so I've stopped trying to keep them indoors over winter, but instead try to harvest and dry enough for my needs until they regrow next April/May.  

For decorative mulch, I collect smooth, white beach pebbles whevener we visit the seaside.  I take a couple of bags:  one for seaweed for the garden, and the other for pretty stones.  We only go to the seaside a few times a year, so it's a gradual process.  Maybe there's a river near you?  Otherwise, maybe a thick straw mulch or similar might be enough to discourage flies.  Dried cut grass or yard trimmings cut in small pieces?  Coconut coir?  



I'd be inclined to agree about the sunlight, but its previous owner didn't seem to have difficulties like this. Then again, they may have kept the plant outside; I might just be unlucky timing-wise. Drying mint leaves should be easy enough though, definitely a good practice to start up.

I'm not sure about a river, but there might be some other locations like this where I might be able to find some stones. I'll definitely give the coconut coir a try!
 
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Location: West Midlands UK (zone 8b) Rainfall 26"
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I think the flies might be fungus gnats rather than fruit flies, based on what I experienced.  In my case I think it was due to using cheap general purpose potting compost instead of a houseplant mix which would have been steam-sterilised.  I bought two carnivorous plants but despite watering them with rainwater they died on me, and I got a yellow sticky fly trap which worked quite well.  I also let the compost surface dry out between waterings and had little killing sprees with an electric fly-swat...  I wasn't convinced that I could create a dense enough mulch with pebbles to stop them getting to the surface of the compost.
 
Branden On
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Location: Montreal
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Hester Winterbourne wrote:I think the flies might be fungus gnats rather than fruit flies, based on what I experienced.  In my case I think it was due to using cheap general purpose potting compost instead of a houseplant mix which would have been steam-sterilised.  I bought two carnivorous plants but despite watering them with rainwater they died on me, and I got a yellow sticky fly trap which worked quite well.  I also let the compost surface dry out between waterings and had little killing sprees with an electric fly-swat...  I wasn't convinced that I could create a dense enough mulch with pebbles to stop them getting to the surface of the compost.



This makes sense, I'm a bit ashamed to admit I'm using Dollarama soil in the pot. I've got a yellow fly trap going as well, which seems to have gotten most of them - I'm mostly interested in ensuring that future generations of gnats won't be successful.
 
pollinator
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Someone told me a layer of sand would work. I haven’t tried it.

Has anyone has successfully used carnivorous plants for pest control indoors? I’ve always wanted to try it. I did some reading on it, and it sounds like most types need too much humidity. I wonder if  a terrarium with the lid off part of the day would work?
 
pollinator
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The craft store probably sells a small rock tumbler. Can us that to make smooth-ish (not sharp) pebbles from broken glass that looks very nice in container plants & as outdoor garden paths.
 
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Has anyone has successfully used carnivorous plants for pest control indoors? I’ve always wanted to try it. I did some reading on it, and it sounds like most types need too much humidity. I wonder if  a terrarium with the lid off part of the day would work?



I have a pitcher plant that doesn't seem sensitive to humidity.  Summers here are hot and dry and it was fine, even with my forgetful watering.  It's hanging above (and into) an impatiens that has an ant nest in it.  I'm generally fine with the ant nest, but it's started getting out of control a few times and I put borax down to beat them back a bit.  In the year since I've had the pitcher plant, I've only seen a couple ants outside the immediate area of the pot.  The pitchers are always full of ants so I can attest to its ant control abilities, if nothing else.
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