In almost all communities, basil is among the most favored crops.
This woody herb gives an amazing smell and can taste sweet, peppery or savory. Basil has served various purposes in nearly every corner of the world, thus creating its own history in a very interesting way throughout centuries. For more than a century, basil was even believed to be capable of spawning scorpions.
I’m sure you can figure out what it is when you hear hydroponic basil for the first time. True to its name, this herb is no different than any other types of basil plant, except for one thing – you need no soil to grow it. I’m sure you can get great benefits from growing hydroponic basil. The most obvious benefit is its usually cleaner leaves that need little washing before using. This is because they grow well with hardly any dirt on. So now, I’ll show you the proper way to grow basils in hydroponics.
Basil has shiny green leaves whose shape tends to catch and hold water. Therefore, I think it’s essential to control condensation. The weather with high humidity, which sometimes reaches 70% plus for long periods, has come as a problem for us.
In greenhouses, I usually try to maintain the humidity somewhere between 40 and 60 percent. So far I have seen no issues with keeping lower humidity levels for an entire day. However, basil is likely to transpire heavily in dark periods. So, I think to yield a productive basil crop; you’d better control the low humidity to last 12 or 14 hours at most for each period of time.
Also, since basil is a very sensitive herb, you should give the plants good airflow rather than a great deal of “wind.”
When growing any plants, you shouldn’t panic to see some leaves dying randomly on your plants because it is a common sight. These leaves may die due to damages or being blocked away from light or for many other reasons. My advice is you should come over this loss and try to pull off as many dead leaves as possible or else they will have a negative impact on the surrounding leaves.
I once wanted to keep these “bad” leaves to make my herbs look lush. However, such doing turned out an adverse damage to plants. Some attached to other leaves then did harm on them, some grew fungus while others turned into a sponge and dripped water onto the healthy leaves around. That was the most terrible mistake I’ve ever made!
Therefore, I highly recommend you clean around your plants well.
I mostly spend my harvest time pruning those that look heavy on top or at the end of the plants. If the end of basil stems grows too heavily, it will gradually split itself from the root base then turn bitter. If you see any stem or root of your plants damaged, you should harvest them at once or throw them out.
Here I suggest my methods for you to eliminate all of your bitter basils:
· harvest before bolting to flower
· get rid of any tough or old growth
· remove broken stems
Make sure you don’t pinch. Instead, you’d better purchase some sharp sheers to prevent the stems from being damaged. If you pinch, the whole stem will be pulled off, and you know, it’s far worse than you can imagine.
Vital Nutrients for Basils
In the past, just like many other hydroponic growers, I used to give my basils some general purpose nutrient formulation that was made for lettuce, herb, and plants. However, I found out that this formulation was only appropriate for young basils. When my basil plants grow more mature, they have a different ratio of nutrient uptake.
The proportions of calcium (Ca) and potassium (K) are quite high in the feeding portion of a hydroponic basil. Therefore, you should choose a nutrient solution in which the Ca: K ration is maintained at a fairly high level, as close to 1:1 as possible.
For your information, calcium and potassium bear a direct relation to the flavor and oil levels of the basil leaves and branches. Meanwhile, nitrogen (N) decides how many leaves are yielded and needs to be kept constant all the time.
Regarding magnesium (Mg), I strongly believe you should maintain this nutrient at a level of 50 ppm at the very least. This is because Mg content is directly related to the composition and yield of some essential oils that mostly form the characteristic aroma and flavor of basil plant.
I highly recommend you pay much attention to the hydroponic system you use to grow basils because it has varied effects on the growth of your plants. Some researchers have experimented with different hydroponic systems to find out their varying impacts. The first time they carried out the experiment on the 4-week growing plants, they couldn’t see any differences between DFT and NFT systems.
However, after the second experiment was performed, they found out that DFT systems yielded 10% more basils (both dry and fresh weight) than NFT systems. In addition, in the latter experiment, basil plants in DFT systems grew around 0.5 inch taller than those in NFT. However, this difference doesn’t carry much meaning for those producing fresh-cut basils.
When considering the overall effect these two production systems, I believe that both DFT and NFT systems can yield high-quality crops of hydroponic basils. So, if you are wondering which system to choose, I highly recommend you take into accounts certain factors such as system maintenance and design rather than its effect on basil growth. For instance, DFT systems are generally located on ground floors. Meanwhile, NFT systems typically feature waist-height troughs which seem to be a comfortable working condition for employees.
When you grow hydroponic basils, keep in mind to maintain the temperature to stand at 68˚F at the very least. Moreover, you should give your plants moderate levels of lighting when they are germinating seedlings. As they grow mature, increase the light to a higher level.
Temperature, light, together with strong nutrient solution, are closely related to the composition of essential oils and volatile compounds in these plants.
Does the quality of winter basil you bought from stores upset you? If yes and you want to go for an improved flavor profile and oil content, my advice is you should apply slight stress coupled with high-intensity, balanced electrical conductivity (EC) and light levels.
I recommend you maintain the level of EC around 1.6 to 1.8 to yield sweet basils.
If you’re worried about your limited growing space, then stay calm now because you can grow basils as microgreens. What do I mean? Well, that is to say, you can harvest your plants during their seedling stage when 2-4 leaves have developed. Even at such a delicate stage, basil herbs have already formed their typical flavor. Though that flavor is milder, it is ideal for cooking various dishes.
How to take care of hydroponic basil bought from a grocery store
If you don’t have much time to grow basil in hydroponics on your own, you can buy some at grocery stores.
However, always remember to check what you are going to buy. If the basil is extremely dried out and is easy to shatter, you’d better give it up. Instead, go for those with supple, soft and well-hydrated leaves since you’re likely to store them for a longer period of time.
In case you only want to keep your basil for about a week, you should store it in a fridge with an ideal temperature ranging from 40 to 45o F.
If you keep the basil at a much lower temperature, it will turn slimy and black, and you have to throw it away.
If you leave the herb in its original packaging then put it in some drawer, it will start losing quality after about 2 to 7 days.
Get set. Get ready. Grow.
Basil is a wonderful and worthwhile herb. Even when you are a beginner, just follow these instructions above, you can yield amazingly high-quality basil crops for your communities. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave your comments below, and remember to have a look at more crop posts.