Growing hydroponic basil is a wonderful idea whether you’re simply wanting to have your own fresh supply for your own use, or whether you’re planning on setting up your own system on a larger scale with the intention of profiting from it. As i’ve set out in a previous article on making money with hydroponics, growing hydroponic basil is a great way of making a lot of money doing something extremely fun and all in the comfort of your own home.
If you grow hydroponic basil then you can make money by selling it to local restaurants. Basil is very popular in Italian cuisine for example but also with Indian cooking too. One thing you should appreciate from the start is that you’re not competing with cheap basil imports. You’re not trying to grow as much as you can and sell it in bulk. Hydroponic basilwill simply be, the largest and healthiest as well as tastiest basil you’ll have ever tasted. Because of this you’ll need to target the more up-market establishments and charge premium for the privilege.
But don’t simply limit your hydroponic basil to the more up-market restaurants. You can also sell to local market traders and farm shops. Basil is also used in many medicines and pharmaceuticals, one chemical found exclusively in basil is used widely in preventing inflammation and arthritis. Basil, particularly high quality basil is also used in many beauty products and perfumes. These are very expensive to buy partially because the high quality basil these products require is very expensive.
Growing hydroponic basil of the utmost quality is what you should be aiming to do and that is what this article is about. There is simply huge potential for profit with hydroponics because hydroponic plants grow on average 40% quicker and 40% larger than anything grown in soil. There is also a year round growth cycle since you have full control of the growth environment.
There are many different types of basil, the most popular being sweet basil, lemon basil and globe basil. Thankfully, they all grow under similar conditions which makes our job a little easier.
How To Grow Hydroponic Basil
Although basil is grown in many places around the world, it is in fact native to India. To grow hydroponic basil, we’ll best need to recreate these growing conditions. Basil is extremely sensitive to the cold, cold conditions will stunt growth and could kill the plant if exposed for a long period. However, in hot and dry conditions basil will thrive.
Choose Your Hydroponic Basil System
Your hydroponic system is basically the method used to transfer nutrients to your plants roots. The system you choose to grow your hydroponic basil will depend on a few things. If you’re on a budget, are inexperienced or just wanting to grow basil on a small scale then you’re better off going for a smaller and easier system such as the hydroponic wick system which you can purchase in an all-in-one system for cheap or else you can make your own.
If you’re on the flip side of the coin and are wanting to build a system that has the potential for up-scaling and you have a budget, perhaps also you’re intending on profiting from your hydroponic basil then you should definitely go for the best system out there. The hydroponic NFT system is the most widely used amongst professional hydroponic farmers. This system allows you to more easily provide aerated nutrients to your plants roots than any other system and therefore yields extremely fast results.
Starting Your Hydroponic Basil
You have a choice of either starting from your own seeds or transporting seedlings straight into your hydroponic system. The latter will be the best as that will be easier and faster. You can get basil seedlings or cuttings from the garden centre.
The first thing you need to do is ensure there is no soil on your roots. Wash off all the soil under a tap whilst gently massaging them, being careful with the delicate roots. It’s preferable to have roots that are well developed. They should be a minimum of two inches long, however three inches is preferred.
Now you need to transport your seedlings into the hydroponic system. If you’re using the NFT system then your plants will be suspended within special nets or pots. No grow medium is required with the NFT system, your roots will simply be suspended from the nets. The roots should be aimed into the special gullies of the NFT system where the running nutrients will be on a constant flow. These nutrients flow down a slight gradient and back into the grow reservoir ready to be re-pumped back to the gullies. This constant flow of aerated nutrient rich solution is perfect for your hydroponic basil.
Best Nutrient Solution For Growing Hydroponic Basil
Since basil is actually grown all over the world, the pH range of your hydroponic nutrient solution can actually be quite large. However you’re best keeping the pH range to anywhere between 5.5 and 6.5 to ensure it thrives. You should check your solution every couple of days using a high quality hydroponic pH tester. If it falls out of the preferred ranges then you can use pH up or down solution to correct it. Your entire nutrient reservoir should be changed every two weeks to keep it fresh.
How Else Can You Improve Your Hydroponic Basil?
Once you have done everything above, your hydroponic basil will grow incredibly well. However, in hydroponics we don’t just make do with “incredibly well”. In hydroponics, we prefer to grow the best! So in order to get the best you’ll need to go a couple of steps further, and that includes doing some of the following.
Get A Grow Tent
By getting yourself a hydroponic grow tent you’ll more easily be able to control the environment. This includes controlling temperature, humidity, CO2 content as well as the light. While we’re on the subject, the ideal temperature for your basil is between 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You’ll be best able to control this temperature by using a good hydroponic intake and exhaust fan that also has a thermostat built in. The only fan i ever use is the Bionaire BW2300 Twin Window Fan! Using this fan enables you to control your temperature and humidity as well as regulate the CO2 content of your tent automatically.
Within your tent you can also have your grow lights. Keep your lights shining to within a couple of inches of your leaves, being careful to raise the lights as the basil grows.
However it’s possible that if your system is so large that no grow tent will be large enough for your system. In this case you can site your system within a greenhouse, which can also be regulated just like within a grow tent. You can of course site your system anywhere including your basement, attic, conservatory or a spare room. As long as your hydroponic basil is getting adequate light then it should be fine. If you’re in your basement, which i do myself then your plants will still thrive with a great set of grow lights.
Anything Else To Consider?
Basil is far better when fresh. Ideally it should be used straight after the leaves are picked from the plant. Of course this is not always easy or practical, especially if like i suggested you’re going to be selling your home grown hydroponic basil around town.
The best way of keeping your picked hydroponic basil leaves fresh is by placing them in sealed plastic bags and keeping them in the refrigerator. However i would not keep them there for longer than a few days. If you need to store them for longer than that then the best thing to do is freeze the leaves.
If you have any other tips or suggestions on growing hydroponic basil then please leave a comment below!