Herb Garden – Basil
Herbal Garden- Growing Basil
For the past two years, we always had the idea to have a small herb garden as we live in the heart of busy Colombo in an apartment we don’t have access to a garden, and if we buy herbs it would only be used once or twice before having to throw them away due to spoiling. As we like to use different verities of herbs and a lot of them and being able to get them fresh without having to run to a shop-made sense. So we looked for the possibility of growing our own.
Last March locked down period gave us much opportunity to make the herb garden we were always looking forward to. With multiple trial and error, we managed to set up a garden in our back balcony. We learnt a lot during this period what and how to grow them from seed to branches, we even planted herbs that we purchased as cuttings from the supermarket. so there are multiple ways to do this if you have a hard time trying to find plants. And its well worth planting and seeing your garden grow green and fragrant every day and we take joy in taking care of the plants. Each time we pluck branch for cooking it gives a small joy to know that we grew this and we have used this many times for different dishes some of which like the herbal cream cheese recipe you can find here.
We will talk about each individual herb plant that we grew one by one and we will start with one of the easiest herbal plants to grow, Basil.
This is hands down, the herb that we use the most just smells amazing even if you pass by the plant and it is very easy to grow and grow it does like a bush.
There are several varieties of basil but one type is most commonly found abundantly as cuttings or as plants. This is the sweet basil variety goes well with pesto pasta and other types of Italian sauces. It has a strong yet not overpowering smell we love using it very creatively into different dishes to add a bit of depth to the overall flavour.
Before we started the garden we were not sure if it would be possible to grow herbs in a warm climate like Colombo but most of the herbs grew very well so we wanted to clear that off first if you have any doubts. We grew plants in several different ways some in large garden pots we made, some in pots some in hydroponics and each delivered different growth rates and results. Below are some important factors for plant growth.
We grew multiple plants in different places even indoors and some under growing lamps what we found was having some exposure to direct sunlight is very important for the plant. It doesn’t have to be very long direct exposure but if the plant has at least 4 hours of some level of direct sun exposure this will help plant growth very well.
If the plant is only getting indirect sunlight this is not sufficient and we learned this the hard way with our indoor plants. You will always see the plant easily growing towards the direct sunlight.
We used a sand mixed soil with compost and cow dung and this worked very well for the plant growth. It’s important to keep the soil looser that it doesn’t retain water pockets as this can spoil the roots and basil roots go everywhere so having a loose structure helps this. If you are growing this on the ground make sure the grown soil drains well.
This is very important to a sweet basil plant they get thirsty very often and its important to water the plant daily twice if the weather is sunny, once in the morning and once in the eve. Otherwise, you will see the plant leaves shrinking fast and would return to normal once water is added. Make sure the soil remains moist for the plant to stay hydrated.
If your soil mixture is good then first several months you need not add anything other than water. However, as the plant grows adding fertilizer will help the process. We add Albert solution once a week and check something similar for your plants.
This is an important aspect of plant growth and maintenance once the plant becomes mature. After a few months with care, your sweet basil plant will start growing tall. when the plant is about 30-40 cm tall you can start pruning your plant to improve flavour and manage the growth.
Following video, covers this area very well.
Now we come to the most interesting part. You can grow basil from any small cutting from another basil plant or even from store-bought basil fresh branches which are sold for cooking, granted that they look fresh.
Cut small branch about 10-15 cm tall and remove all leaves but the once on the top
Same can be done with store-bought basil branches you will have to trim the bottom edge.
Fill a glass or a jar with water and dip the branch in the water about 2-3 cm deep and leave it away from direct sunlight as this will kill the plant. We used rooting powder to accelerate this process and you should see roots in a few days.
we saw many of roots in 7 days, once your plant has a healthy amount of root structure like this it is safe to transfer this to a pot. Choose a large enough pot and once you do repot this needs to be kept in the same share for few more days for the plant to get used to the soil. Once another 4-5 days have passed you can transfer it to an area where there is direct sunlight.
If you imagined that these grow well in water, they really do we checked plant growth in water vs soil and you can get several months results in 4-6 weeks, we will add how to grow hydroponics basil plants in a future post.
Do reach out to us via Instagram if you have any questions.