Some big changes were made in the basil grow this week. The plants were switched from their initial top drip set up to an ebb and flow. For more information regarding the differences and advantages of each system, I’ll refer you to a post I made a few months ago regarding using cloners, top drip and ebb and flow systems for an efficient continuous harvest system. In any case, the ebb and flow system, which works by flooding the entire Botanicare tray with nutrient solution, should solve the aforementioned algae problem for good. Now that the pots are watered from the bottom, the surface level of hydro pebbles and the Starter Plugs should remain dry mitigating against issues arising from water near the stem including excess algae, and bacterial or fungal infections.
At this point, the vegetative growth should be rapid. We want a flush of succulent new growth before we harvest (which shouldn’t be too far in the future). On the problem front, the plant is of sufficient age that it has begun to bolt, or transition into a reproductive stage from the purely vegetative one. In other words, a combination of the age of the plant and environmental factors have induced the plant to start making flowers and, eventually, seeds. Of course, we want the basil exclusively for its leaves, so I’ll be diligent about ‘dead heading’ (i.e. topping) the flower buds before they can develop further, sapping the plant of energy that we’d rather it put into leaf growth. Generally, to keep our basil in a regenerative phase, we want to minimize stress (especially water stress), keep the air temperature moderate and, if we have the means, lower the temperature of the reservoir.
As far as the nutrients go, the pH is sitting at about 5.8 and the PPM count is between 700-800. The nutrient levels were raised to account for the more robust growth rate of the mature plants.