If you like fresh spaghetti sauce or pesto, than you’ve just got to have fresh basil and other herbs all year round! Sure, a nice 1 X 4 window backyard becoming at least 4 or 5 hours of direct light from a sunny window will provide you something to pinch here and there. Gardens with rosemary, mint, bay leaf, savory, oregano, chervil, sand thyme are some of the easiest to grow this way.
But what if you want your basil. . .and lots of it? Basilikum and cilantro need only a little more light, and actually prefer 8 hours or more of direct light each day. Besides this if you want fresh pesto, only a pinch here and there’s not going to cut it. Here’s what you can do about it.
The objective is a vegatative light cycle (18 hours ), with eight or even more direct sunlight or bright artificial light.
Whenever the light levels are low, give them a boost. Two or three fluorescent lights over your plants will greatly increase their growth and return. You may develop enough ginger for a couple servings of pesto now and then, and still have enough always at your fingertips.
Or, with a little metal halide light you’d have a bigger area with better lighting. You could surely create a wealth of any herbs you select for your culinary and aromatic delights. Basil would take well to the bright conditions below a metal halide, since it’s a Mediterranean, sun loving herb.
It’s been said that some herbs grow , or should be grown inside, bad soil. The oils in herbs make them special. Very fast growing herbs frequently grow plain leaves and stalks more quickly than they could produce tasty essential oils. Often you will hear “basil grows better in poor soil” or “your basil will taste better if you do not fertalize”. These people really mean “do not grow your basil too quickly” (sorry to pick on basil).
When growing in a container, it’s a little different. The plant still requires some food to grow, and if that food runs out you will have to fertalize. However, as you may see in the following two sections, this is taken into account along with the expansion habbits of your own herbs.
To maintain initial growth rates in control, I use a soil mix with just enough nourishment. Mix 2 parts sphagnum peat to 1 part perlite, and than add 20 percent worm castings. Adjust the Ph of any mixture using sphagnum peat moss by adding two teaspoons of hydrated lime for each gallon of soil mix. Or you could substitute peat with coconut coir or vermiculite, which don’t require Ph adjusting. Finally, I add 1 tbsp of kelp meal for every gallon of soil to add plant hormones and to offer valuable micro-orgnisms something to feed on. Use this mix when you transplant.
If you feel the surface of the soil and it’s dry, than you want to water. Another method is to pick up the container and assess how thick it is. Your herbs like their soil to drain quickly. You want to have containers with holes in the bottom, and you will need to add an inch or so of perlite or gravel into the bottom of each container as you transplant. It’s ideal to water thoroughly, but less frequently. Water the container until a few water comes out the bottom.
When the herbs have been in almost any container for ten days or longer, you want to start feeding them. In a container, the origins are stuck in a small area and mine it free of any nourishment, particularly if you were going easy on the nutrients to start with. Feed with half strength nutrient for example Maxsea 16-16-16 every 2 weeks.
If you truly need to keep your plants healthy, I also recommend 10 ml/gallon Thrive Alive B1 and Maxicrop liquid seaweed in every drop of water that you give to your crops. The B1 is root and vitamins hormones, and the seaweed is trace nutrients and plant growth hormones. This will assist with essetial oil production. Finally, water from around the foundation. . .it doesn’t like water on its leaves.
Whenever the herbs have grown enough leaves to be pinched without affecting their development, you can start using a few of the herbs. This is usually about 4 to 6 months, depending on the herbs. Herbs such as basil are best when harvested before blossoms open. You’ll Get your highest essetial oil amounts when you harvest at the end of this dark period, assuming you Don’t
Leave the lights on 24 hours per day.