I skipped a week as I wanted to keep Anna Haupt’s excellent seed starting post featured on the front page and there wasn’t a ton to report last week…
In any case, the seedlings seem to be doing really well. In proportion to the height of the plants, the leaves are huge! There is also lots of side branching going on. All the better for vigorous photosynthesis to put on lots of harvestable vegetative growth. The reservoir is reading 300 PPM and about pH 5.8. I will probably go ahead and add some more nutrients and H2O2 soon. More on that to come.
On the potential problem front, I did notice that a coat of algae formed on the moist starter plugs in which the basil seeds were originally planted. Basically, the starter plugs weren’t buried deep enough in the pebble medium. When I inserted the dripper lines, the plugs were jostled even higher exposing them to a lot of light. The presence of algae can be problematic for several reasons. First, algae competes with plants for nutrients. It can also produce compounds that are toxic to plants. The last issue is a bit more speculative, but I believe that the algal growth also provides a substrate for unwanted microbes to thrive, especially once it starts to die and decay.
I am attempting to remediate this issue in a few ways. In the short term, I sprayed Safer: Moss & Algae killer. It contains no metals and is OMRI approved. Its active ingredient is potassium salts of fatty acid, which is the chemical name for a class of insecticidal/fungicidal soaps and works by dehydrating cells. As a longer term solution I’m going to reduce the watering schedule, now that the plants are more established, and I’m going to try to bury the dripper lines deeper so that the peat plugs dry out sufficiently to retard the growth of this green algae.
Until next time,