Hydroponic Basil Farming, Growing, Cultivation Practices

Introduction to Hydroponic Basil Farming

Basil is the most popular fresh culinary herb. Basil is a common name for Ocimum Basilicum and it belongs to the Lamiaceae family (Mint family). Basil can be grown from seeds or cuttings. Basil is a bushy annual; most varieties grow 1 to 2 feet tall. Growing Hydroponic Basil is fairly easy although not without its snafus. Basil thrives very well in a hydroponic system, and it is indeed among the most grown herbs in Hydroponic. You can grow Basil in NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) or Drip system. Once the Basil plant reaches the mature stage, you harvest and trim it weekly. Basil requires lots of lights. It will undergo poor growth when you do not provide it with over 11 hours of lightning.

A Step by Step Guide to Hydroponic Basil Farming

Guide to Hydroponic Basil Farming.
Guide to Hydroponic Basil Farming.

In general, Basil prefers warm temperatures, a moderately acidic pH level, and relatively low EC levels, and responds well to high light levels. Though, specific requirements can vary depending upon the growing system and the time of year.

Ideal Conditions for Hydroponic Basil;

  • EC – 1.6 to 2.2
  • pH range – 5.6 to 6.6
  • Temperature – 16 to 35°C
  • Day Temperature Range 21 to 27°C
  • Night temperatures should be no less than 18°C
  • Light – Minimum 10 hours per day
  • DLI (Daily Light Integral) – Minimum 12 mol per m2 per day or higher; Basil performs well with high light levels.
  • EC (electroconductivity) – 1.0–1.4mS, depending on the season; during winter, crops need a higher EC than during summer.

Basil plant is fairly temperamental; it requires a warm sheltered environment. Assuming you are growing your hydro-Basil indoors, avoid excess drafts. You still need air circulation to facilitate transpiration and ward off fungi just not excessive cool drafts. Keep an oscillating fan running moderately a few hours daily to stimulate sturdier plant growth and facilitate transpiration. Basil will readily consume huge amounts of growth-encouraging CO2 when grown in a small grow room. Proper ventilation and air-exchange will prevent this. Basil leaves will droop, fade and occasionally drop after a relatively short time in cool drafts such as windowsills. The same thing is true of dry air from forced heat.

Basil needs persistent indoor temperatures 21 to 27°C, naturally a tad cooler during the night cycle but never lower than 18°C. Maintaining temperatures is the first step in maintaining adequate humidity levels. The potential water retains the capacity of warm air is much greater than cooler air. Air at 18°C can hold 4 to 5 times more moisture as -4°C air can.

Common Hydroponic Systems Used in Basil Farming

The most common systems used to cultivate hydroponic Basil are nutrient film technique (NFT), deep flow technique (DFT), and many more. As long as there is sufficient water flow and there’s little chance of water stagnation, you can plant Basil in almost any type of hydroponics setup.

In Deep Flow Technique, plants are grown in a container that contains hydroponic nutrient solution meant for that crop. The plants are suspended in the nutrient solution using a net pot attached the lid. You can also use a floating raft on the container and raft can host the plants. Generally, in such a system an air bubbler is provided to aerate the nutrient solution. This process of aeration will increase the dissolved oxygen in the nutrient solution. This can also be called a raft system since the plants are floated on a raft that sits on the top of the container.

Best Media and Nutrients for Hydroponic Basil Farming

A mix of perlite and vermiculite works better for Basil. Other soilless mediums will work as well so long as they are not overly restrictive of the root system. Basil has vigorous roots and they grow quickly once the plant is established. Oasis Cubes also works well for seed starting, coco coir will suffice. The seed must be placed deep enough to prevent it from drying out; this will also help the seed coat to release as it germinates.

The most appropriate grow media are Rockwool, perlite, vermiculite, coconut coir, and sometimes even sand culture can be used. The problem however with sand culture is that sand tends to accumulate throughout the system, and this may cause obstructions that are messy to clean up later. You can use sand as grow media as long as it has been sterilized. As for growing media like coconut coir, it is extremely suggested that you combine them with vermiculite or perlite to improve the oxygen-water ratio, which also directly increases the tenability of what you are cultivating.

Light Requirement for Hydroponic Basil Farming

This crop only requires 10 to 12 hours of light per day, per 5-week cycle. For people propagating during wintertime, you may need to support your crops with large LED grow lights to help control the ambient temperature and provide sufficient light to your Basil crops.

Starting Hydroponic Basil from Seed

Basil seeds are minute, black, and oval-shaped. Start seeds in moistened propagation cubes such as Rockwool, Oasis Cubes, or peat pellets.

You can also start them the same as conventional seeds in the soil, and transfer them to your hydroponic setup as they sprout and attain a respectable size. Germination from seed takes in the ballpark of a week.

Starting Hydroponic Basil from Cuttings

Propagating Basil from cuttings is another viable method. To spread Basil cuttings, snip off a 3 to the 4-inch stem of new growth just above two lateral leaf nodes. Give the cut plant a generous watering so it can settle itself.

Remove the lower leaves on the stem you just took from the parent plant, leaving only the two smallest leaves at the top. Place the cutting in a container of fresh water in a sunny location such as a windowsill. If you are failing to maintain the water, changing it out occasionally the chances of developing rots and fungus increases drastically. After a week the stem should be sprouting new roots.

Plant Spacing in Hydroponic Basil Farming

Hydroponic Basil can be spaced 5 to 6 inches apart to allow for excellent airflow and to ensure that fungal diseases are kept at bay. Neem oil application is also recommended if your greenhouse is normally very humid as this will protect the plants and prevent fungal problems that can spread fairly quickly throughout the system.

Process of Hydroponic Basil Farming

Step 1) Basil can be slightly tricky to grow properly, because of the conditions that it requires to flourish. You should try to keep it in a pH range between 5.6 and 6.6, which is somewhat acidic. You should also keep it at a temperature between 18 to 35°C, ideally.

Step 2) One thing that you should pay attention to is the humidity in the environment. Basil leaves tend to hold water, so you must try your best to control condensation and humidity. It would be good to maintain the humidity in the air between 40% and 60%.

Step 3) You should also make sure that your Basil has a sufficient amount of light to grow. This might mean you need to get a supplemental light, to compensate for days that don’t give your plants the 10 to 12 hours of daylight that they need to grow as much as they can.

Step 4) With Basil, pruning, and cutting is also very important. If you have dying leaves on plants, you need to take away them as soon as you can. If they stay, they will negatively affect the leaves surrounding them. In some cases, the wilting leaves will stick to other leaves and damage them as well, drip onto the other leaves, or grow a fungus that can spread to the rest of the plants.

Step 5) If your plants tend to be too heavy on the end of the top, this can cause stems to break, which can waste a large part of your plant. You can prune your plants to make them less heavy in certain areas and prevent the larger stems from breaking.

How Long Does Hydroponic Basil Take to Grow

Germination of Basil takes 7 to 10 days, and the transplant will require 3 to 5 weeks to stabilize and mature sufficiently in the main hydroponics system. You can harvest your Basil at the 10th week.

Basil Growing Tips for Hydroponic Systems

  • Basil needs moderate humidity for the best growth. Because you will have transplanted indoors, you will be pleased to know Basil doesn’t need intense light, and T5 fluorescent tubes will suffice. Though, if you are using HID or LED, these are also well suitable as long as you are sure to have exact spacing from the tops of your plants.
  • For the best growth, Basil wants between 14 to 16 hours of light per day.
  • The pH levels of your system need to be in the range between 5.5 and 6.5. For the nutrients, you will be required to make sure these are not full strength in the beginning. Basil will have had to work to find the nutrients in the soil, and now they will have an abundance delivered to their roots in one go.
  • When pruning for use, a healthy Basil plant can have the top third to two-thirds removed from the foliage and upper leaves. This will continue to grow back where you can use it again. It should be around 3-times you can do this before needing to change your Basil plant.
  • Before discarding your plant the final time, you can use this to take cuttings for propagation.
  • When you grow hydroponic Basil, keep in mind to maintain the temperature to stand at 20°C at the very least. Moreover, you should give your Basil plants moderate levels of lighting when they are germinating seedlings. As the plants grow mature, increase the light to a higher level.
  • Temperature, light, together with strong nutrient solution, is closely related to the composition of essential oils and volatile compounds in these plants.

Troubleshooting Hydroponic Basil Plants

All Basil plants are attacked by Whiteflies and aphids, sometimes thrips. All hydroponic crops are attacked by Fungus Gnats.

Damping-off and fusarium wilt are two of the more common diseases. You can improve the disease resistance of your Basil plants by maintaining a suitable nutrient regimen and a hydroponic environment conducive to its stamina.

The majority of issues encountered in hydroponic gardening arise from nutrient problems, either excessive, inadequate nutrient level, or environmental issues that hamper the uptake of nutrients to the plant tissues.

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Is it Hydroponic Basil Taste Better than Regular Soil Basil?

Yes, hydroponic Basil can taste better than soil-grown Basil as the type of nutrients you are going to be using can be modified depending on your needs. Some liquid fertilizers provide an added boost as they improve both aroma and taste.

Main Causes of Wilting in Hydroponic Basil

To know what you can do about wilting hydroponic Basil, it might help to understand the causes. What you should do depends on quite a bit on the cause behind the wilting. There are a couple of different causes of wilting when it comes to hydroponic Basil.

Water Issues in Hydroponic Basil

Problems with the solution in which the Basil plants are growing can cause wilting. Deficiencies within the medium in nutrients, such as chlorine, magnesium, and copper, can cause wilting. You can combat this problem by using a good hydroponic fertilizer with all the essential nutrients. It’s also important that you regularly change the solution.

Fusarium Wilt

Fusarium wilt is one more cause of wilting in hydroponic Basil. It is caused by the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Basilici. It is mainly common on sweet Basil, and it’s generally introduced to populations of Basil plants by infected seeds.

Wilting of the foliage is only one major symptom of this type of fungus. You will also be observed chlorosis and necrosis of the plant, asymmetric growth, growth retardation, and discolouration. Once you observe symptoms of fusarium wilt, there is no cure. You just need to remove the infected plants right away. This is because there could be sporulation on the surface of these plants that can become airborne and spread to other plants. You also need to carefully clean your hydroponic equipment if there is an outbreak since it could be contaminated.

How to Harvest Hydroponic Basil

Do not pinch off your Basil during harvesting. Use a pair of scissors to snip off at the second “Y” from the bottom of the stem, leaving one or two pairs of leaves. The Basil will reconstitute itself after harvesting.

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