Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Starting Seeds for the Unlimited Basil Factory

Now that it's a new year, I need to get some plants started for my NFT garden to plant in it when spring rolls around. Let's walkthrough my process of filling my system with plants.

For modularity, this system was designed to accept plants in 2 inch net cups. Using this rockwool I bought, I cut it down into much smaller 1”x1” cubes. These I'm placing into a stryofoam egg container. I've previously stabbed in holes to each of these cubes to place the seeds in, but I went back through with a pencil to make sure they are wide enough.
Next I'm sowing my basil seeds into each of the cubes. I'm planting two different varieties of basil at this time, Sweet and Genovese. Each hole is filled with 2 to 3 seeds to ensure germination. Now the seeds are watered. The rockwool will absorb water until it's saturated, which will cause the seeds to germinate. Now I'm waiting until the seeds do their thing, but that might not happen.
Basil likes hot temperatures and with it being about 68F in my house, only time will tell if they germinate. After the seeds do end up germinating, I'll rig up some indoor lights for encouraging plant growth. I'll show the next stage in the future.
Something like this might be rigged up
Once the roots begin to grow out of the cubes, I'll transplant them into the net pots and
fill them with my inert growing media. Now lots of people use expanded clay pebbles as their hydroponic media, but I opt for a cheaper method, using river pebbles. These you can get at any local hardware or landscaping store. Just make sure to rinse them off before you use them.

The next steps once the basil plants are established is to start propagation. You may have noticed that I only sowed seeds for 18 plants at this time. When the basil grows big enough indoors, I will be rooting cuttings from each plant to fill the remainder of the system. Cuttings take about a week and a half to propagate while seeding could take twice that long to transplant into the system.
For more information on how that works, see our guide on propagation of basil from cuttings.
I'd rather get established now indoors so that when March comes around, the system can be
filled with basil all at once for maximum yield. At the moment though this basil is going to sit indoors as the weather this time of year is not very friendly to the plants.....
So what does one man do with 72 basil plants in 8 square feet? Aside from all the basil I would have to dry, make pesto, or pizza with, as I mentioned in my New Years Resolutions, I was hoping I could actually find clients to sell to. Basil is a hot commodity when fresh, and I'd have more that enough to supply the entire neighborhood or a local restaurant.
Or I could make a lot of pesto
I'm dreaming big here, but from running this thing at barely half capacity last year, I know the supply will be there. It will be up to me to find the right clients to sell this basil to. Ideally I'd hope this thing could grow between 1 – 5 lbs worth of basil a week. At a market price of $5 or $6 lb in bulk, that's around $5 - $30 a week! Not bad for 8 square feet of garden space. This system would pay for itself in no time at all.
So that's what my plans are for this year with this garden. If you're interested in seeing more about this garden, or if you would like to get your hands on this basil once I get this garden growing again,
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Disclaimer: For all the products I'm using in this section, I have included links in the description below. If you follow these links, Greens and Machines will receive a portion of the sale

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