It's been about a year since I hung up this blog, but my green thumb is back.
For the time being, I figured I'd take a break from the hydroponics and go back to container gardening. There are a number of interesting products out there, from brand new Aerogardens (I see that AeroGrow has released the "Bounty" that contains nine pods, 24 inch extendable arm and full spectrum LED which looks really intriguing) to a relatively new player called Click and Grow, to some interesting products such as this aquaponic garden from Back to the Roots where you can raise both herbs and fish! Still no word from NIWA, but I assume they're still working on their offering as well.
At some point I'll see if I can scrounge up the $$ to get these to review them, but in the meantime I thought I'd go completely old school. No hydroponics, no aeroponics, no aquaponics, just growing basil as a houseplant.
Now it wasn't that long ago that I had more basil than I knew what to do with. You remember those days--I was making margherita pizza and caprese salads and pesto and basil ice cream and everything else I could think of. Well, I was a little basiled out after a while, but recently I had a craving again for margherita pizza, so at a local farm stand I bought a bunch of it, freshly picked from the farms on Long Island.
My wife made the mistake of putting the basil in the refrigerator, and within a day it was ruined--black, soaked, and mushy.
And so I went to the local supermarket. There were bunches of basil from New Jersey and I picked up another bunch. I harvested about 20-30 leaves to use for a pizza, and another 10-20 to use for a caprese salad, but there were dozens of other leaves remaining. This time we didn't put it in the refrigerator, but within 24 hours they were shriveled.
And so just like that we were out about $7. But luckily in both cases I had the foresight to save a couple stalks to basil and root them.
Rooting basil is one of the easiest things you'll do,
- Take a fresh branch of basil with lots of healthy looking leaves.
- Strip off the leaves at the bottom. This is important because any leaves that fall below the water line are going to grow bacteria
- Fill a clean, empty bottle with lukewarm water.
- Cut the bottom stem of the basil at an angle, under running water.
- Place it in the water, again making sure that only stem and no leaves are below the water line
- Fill the water every few days. Your basil will be thirsty and drink up a lot of water
- Pretty soon you'll see little roots growing out. Congratulations, it's time to transplant them
To transplant them, just take a houseplant pot, fill it about 3/4 of the way with regular potting soil. Pour a little water in to mix it into clay (think back to making mud pies as a kid) and then dig a little hole.
If you're putting more than one plant, make sure they're spaced out enough so both have room to grow.
Place it in a sunny window and make sure to water it every few days.
I'd suggest keeping them separate from other houseplants until you're 100% sure there aren't any little critters sneaking a ride--as we've seen, once fungus gnats, spider mites or aphids discover herb plants, the plants don't have much of a chance, if not of surviving then of being able to be served at the dinner table.
From time to time you'll need to fertilize, just use regular Miracle Gro plant food.
As much as I love hydroponics, the nice thing about going "old school" like this is that you don't pay for electricity, for grow lights, for seed pods, or anything like that.