If you have decided to grow basil on your hydroponic farm, then we congratulate you on your wise decision. Discover why?
Why hydroponic basil?
The shiny green leaves of basil are highly rich in iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamins A, K & C.
Apart from its food value, the essential oil extracted from basil is effective in healing wounds, cuts, and various infections of the skin. With such valuable features, basil has earned all the good reasons to be a part of your hydroponic farm.
Unlike the low maintenance traditional field-grown basil, the hydroponic basil demands a little high maintenance. However, hydroponic basil yields 240 times more than traditional field farming and can bring tremendous profit margins to you. Moreover, by exporting your hydroponic basil, you can earn more profits.
What are the essentials of hydroponic basil?
As hydroponic crops are grown in a soil-free system, they are free from all kinds of soil-related diseases. However, for growing basil make sure that your hydroponic farming setup has high levels of light and you remain specific in maintaining the essentials noted below:
- Always grow the hydroponic basil in isolation from other kinds of plants, as it needs more nutrients to yield more.
- Your hydroponic basil must get an adequate amount of light for at least 14 to 15 hours/day.
- The minimum amount of Daily Light Integral (or the DLI) should be higher or equal to 12 mol for every m2/day.
- The Electroconductivity (EC) for hydroponic farming of basil must get maintained between 1mS/cm to 1.4mS/cm. Do not forget to make necessary adjustments of EC as per the season. In winter, EC should be 1.4mS/cm or higher; and in summer, EC should be 1mS/cm or lower.
- The pH level for the hydroponic basil should be between 5.6 and 6.2, which is relatively lower than other organic farming setups.
- The temperature for hydroponic farming of basil should be between 18°C and 20°C or 64°F and 71°F.
Most importantly, the nutrient solution for hydroponic basil must remain compatible with the available type of water. It is therefore recommended that you have a proper consultation with a hydroponic agronomist regarding the right nutrient solution.
A-Dozen steps to grow hydroponic basil
1 Site: Basil yields best in a wet or humid environment. Select a site where you can have adequate light and water. Availability of sunlight is an added advantage.
2 Spacing: While planting, seedlings should be placed at a distance of 9 to 12 inches. Do not give space to any other plant in that area.
3 Lighting: Basil plants need lighting with moderate intensity, and for 14 to 16 hours per day. So, apart from mild sunlight, you need to use fluorescent LED lights
4 Hydroponic system: Among all kinds of hydroponic systems, choose ‘ebb and flow’ for basil. Since this system saturates the basil roots with enough water with nutrients for 15 to 20 minutes; its application brings in enough growth to the plant.
5 Watering: The schedule for watering basil plants depends on the wet environment of your area. In general, the watering should be 3 to 4 times a day and 5 to 7 days a week.
6 Level of pH: Hydroponic crops, like basil plants, need to maintain a neutral 5.5 to 6.5 pH level.
7 Nutrient solution: Basil is used at its vegetative stage and so the basic nutrient solution with a high level of nitrogen, is appropriate for it.
8 Fertilizer: For the good growth of basil plants, apply foliar-boosting along with essential micronutrient supplements- magnesium and calcium.
9 Humidity: You are highly lucky to grow hydroponic basil if you are living in an area with high humidity. The atmospheric mist adds great growth to these plants. Otherwise to avoid wilting, use spray bottles to sprinkle water on the basil leaves.
10 Maintain environment & pruning: Maintenance of the environment is very necessary for the basil plants, as even minute shock can spoil the plant in no time. By pruning, you need to cut the leaves individually. This is to remove the dead leaves from the plant and allow re-growth to it.
11 Time: To grow fully, the basil plants takes only 28 days or just 6 to 10 weeks.
12 Harvesting: The last stage is harvesting. For harvesting, you need to either cut the leaves from the top part of the plant or can choose to harvest the plant with leaves and stalks. It all depends on the kind of preference led by the consumers.
How to add longevity to hydroponic basil?
The re-growing process of hydroponic basil can be continued for a couple of years. However, you must prevent the plant from:
- Flowering: The flowering of basil plants signify that the plant has crossed its vegetative stage and is ready for reproduction. At this stage, the leaves lose their taste. So, you need to prune the plants regularly to delay the process of flowering.
- Leaves turning black: Pseudomonas cichorii- a bacterial infestation turns the basil leaves black or adds brown spots to them. Add a fan to those plants with brown and black advents. Try to add more space with other plants or remove such plants, to prevent the spread.
- Leaves turning brown: Basil leaves can turn brown and their tip get downward when they lack adequate sunlight. Add more light to these plants for recovery or remove them to prevent spread.
- Leaves turning yellow: Turning yellow happens when the plant suffers from deficiencies of nitrogen, zinc or magnesium. Add these micronutrients to the plants and they will start getting their shiny green colour.
- Wilting of leaves: Dryness in the atmosphere causes wilting of the basil leaves. Increase the frequency of watering and spraying of moisture on the plants.
Keep track of all the guidelines and enjoy earning the best return on your investment.