basil testing

Genovese basil at 3 weeks old

If you’ve seen our grow room video (and didn’t fall asleep), you may have heard about our efforts to produce a line of herb pots. This is something we’ve been working on since maybe December 2019. The progress has been slow, though we also haven’t been spending every waking moment consumed by this, either. Initially, we had been trying to grow basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill in 3.33″ x 3.33″ pots. The consistent results were that we had semi-decent germination and initial growth, but after about a month, the plants would start to yellow and go downhill from there.

We eventually started adding an organic 2-2-2 fertilizer, but the dosage was much lower than what the bottle recommended (we did that on purpose). This appeared to improve things a little, but not enough to where we’d feel comfortable selling the plants. We also changed the soil we had been using to one with more vermiculite, which tends to provide better drainage, more aeration, etc. This also seems to have helped a little.

In July, we changed our approach a bit. We decided to focus only on basil… let’s work on that, get that to where we want it, and then maybe we can add back in other herb varieties. And so then we started an experiment. (This may be the first of a series of experiments.) We started 9 pots of basil, and then varied the amount of water as well as the amount of fertilizer across the pots. The above 3×3 grid illustrates. For the three rows of pots, we varied the water from 1 tablespoon per day, to 1.5 tbsp / day, to 2 tbsp / day. And then for the columns, we varied the fertilizer dosage from an interval of 1 week, to 2 weeks, to 3 weeks (using the full recommended dosage each time).

The photo above was taken about a week ago and shows the plants at about 3 weeks old. Already, we can start to see some interesting differences. The watering sweet spot seems to be around 1.5 – 2 tbsp water per day, and the 1 week fertilizer interval looks to be the leader. It will be interesting to see how well they do going forward, and we’ll likely come up with additional ideas to test to see if we can further dial in our process to produce a better basil offering.

We’re gearing up for the 8/29 market, though current forecast hints at “heavy rainfall” at some point in the day. Hopefully that holds off until the afternoon, but we’ll get what we get. Plenty of microgreens on the way for Saturday, and Elissa’s been harvesting salad mix and tomatoes from the garden. Hopefully a limited batch of eggs for Saturday, as well. Hope to see you there!

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