We run a lot of hydroponic display systems at Fifth Season Gardening Co. The inputs that are required by the plants we grow include electricity, nutrients and water, not to mention time spent maintaining the systems. What with our focus on sustainable agriculture, we decided to find a use for the abundance of, in this case, sweet basil that we grow in our 4×8′ Sun Hut grow tent. Ultimately, we found a restaurant that was excited to gain access to a regular supply of fresh basil, picked only hours in advance of delivery down the street as opposed to the default option (basil picked days in advance in California or Mexico).
I would like to take the opportunity to share this process with the larger hydroponic community. I plan to make weekly posts detailing each segment of the process including the nutrient regimen, pest control and any other aspects that could be of educational value to hydroponic enthusiasts. The first post naturally begins with seed starting. I hope you enjoy following along as cotyledon leaves give way to lush, explosive growth that will end up on local Carrboro pizzas. In the interest of full disclosure, we are paid for the basil in pizzas, and they are a tasty!
I elected to start our seeds in peat-based Starter Plugs. I chose starter plugs because they hold up well in hydroponic media for the couple of months required before we harvest. The seedlings are around a week old at this point. As soon as the seedlings put on a set or two of ‘true’ leaves, I will give them a light feeding and establish them in a 4×4 Botanicare grow tray. This will be the topic of my next post. Until then, happy gardening!