Growing Basil: Seeding, Maintenance, and Harvest

Intro

Ocimum basilicum or Basil is a very popular herb and highly aromatic herb. It is native to Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands. It is a popular herb in many cuisine types including Vietnamese, Thai, and Italian foods. One of my favorite culinary uses being Margherita Pizza. Basil has many health benefits that will be discussed in subsequent posts.

There are many different types to choose from, I will be growing Sweet Italian Basil. You are welcome to grow any kind of Basil you would like and it should work the same. This post is about how seed/start basil plants and what you will need to do to grow this plant. For this we will be testing the recommendations of the top 3 ranking sites on google for the keyword growing basil. Below will be their recommendations so that you can grow them with me if you are obliged to do so. I will follow their recommendations and also test a couple of different ways to grow them.

Basil Soil Requirements

When you are growing basil you should choose a well draining sterile soil or medium. It can be coco coir, a seed starting soil mix, rock wool, peat moss, etc. There are many options for seed starting and really is one of those things that spans many plants as one what I would call a grower basic. I personally normally use just coco coir myself and water. I also have my medium a little damp and apply some water to the seeds. Currently I do mainly hydroponic growing so I will add a very small amount of my favorite early stage hydro solution Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow once the seeds grow some. They also have a soil version for those of you who are soil growers.

You can also use heat mats if you would like to help with seed starting. I personally don’t use them but I know many gardeners use them and have great success with them. You can just use a pot if with the medium of your choice or you can use a seed starting kit. I have done both and I like seed starting kits only because it allows you to use a small amount of medium and isolate seedlings for an easy transplant to a bigger pot. For Basil you will want to make sure that your soil or medium is at least 50 degrees. Indoor growers no issues there, but for you outdoor folks, make sure your soil is warm enough.

Environmental Requirements and Care for Growing Basil

Light:

Basil requires full sun. So that means at 6-8 hours of sun. For you indoor folks that means at least 14-16 hours of grow lights.

Spacing and Size:
If you are growing multiple plants make sure they are 12 inches apart from each other. Basil will grow 12 to 24 inches in height.

pH and Watering:
Make sure the soil pH is between 6 and 7. Keep the soil moist and well drained.

Temperature:
Basil is a warm weather plant so make sure you have temperatures around 70 degrees at least. All three sites mentioned Basil being cold sensitive so be wary of that.

Harvesting Basil

Pinch off leaves at the stems. Pinching will generate more leaves for later harvest and manage the growth of your plant. Don’t cut the woody stem as that will stop growth on the plants.It is important to keep the plants properly pruned. This will ensure continued good growth. After 6 weeks pinch off the center to prevent flowering. You can also cut off flowers if they do flower. Harvesting can begin once the plants are 6-8 inches.

Growing Basil Experiment Design

Hypothesis

I assume that all three growing methods I will use will yield healthy plants. I think my favorite growing solution Botanicare Grow will yield the best.

Methods

The recommendations for growing basil above again are from the top 3 ranking sites on Google for growing basil(Bonnie Plants, Almanac, The Kitchn). I will grow indoors to manage temperature since it is currently winter where I am at. They will grow 3 separate plants and test them using 3 different growing methods. I will use a pH sensor, temperature and humidity sensor, a light intensity sensor, and possibly a soil moisture sensor.

Experiment Variables

Plant1

Plant1 will be in coco coir and I will use Botanicare Grow as I mentioned above.

Plant2

Plant2 will be in coco coir as well but I will use a different hydroponic solution

Plant3

Plant3 will be in organic soil and use a an organic fertilizer to emulate growing outside.

Experiment Controls

I will use the same size pot and keep these plants in the same environment. They will all have red and blue LED lights and lighting times, be in the same grow tent next to each other. That should yield the same temperature and humidity. I will follow the watering requirements I will use a wick system. My next post will have the data and results for my tests. I invite you to try the experiment of growing basil with me!

References:
SfGate.com
Bonnie Plants
The Kitchn
Almanac
Garden Products Review
Related Posts:
Grow Light Guide
PH Measurement

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