Culinary: growing basil seedlings

Discussion in 'Herbs for the Kitchen' started by tgplp, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    Hello :)

    I just bought some basil seedlings for $0.99. I think there are about five seedlings in the tiny container which is about two and a half inches by two and a half inches. What should I do? Should I seperate the basil into their own containers? They sure look pretty crowded in there! Do I need to water the basil? Would it be alright if I put the basil underneath a fluorescent light with my tomato plants? Or would to much fluorescent light kill them?
    I've never grown basil before, so any help would be great.
    Thanks!
    ~tgplp :)
     
  2. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I grow basil all the time, and it can be grown as crowded as you prefer. It loves fluorescent lighting too, and can perform well under it, as long as the bulbs aren't old.

    Transplant the basil into a bigger pot about 6-8 inches deep and space the plants a few inches from each other.

    Here's some basil I grew from seed a couple years back, and as you can see, the plants are all crowded together, but still doing great. I've been growing it this way for years...


    : )
     

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  3. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Normally most basil growers desire nice bushy plants instead of the tall sparse plants you would get by forcing the young seedling to remain growing in a crowded container. After your plants have grown two sets of leaves, basil can be transplanted into their permanent containers. Basil is made bushy by pinching off the top two pairs of leaves after the stem reaches an acceptable height. As the plant grows, continued pinching, to a reasonable point, the fuller the plant becomes. By growing the plant properly it develops into a nice full round shape, and gives you much more basil to use in your cooking. One important note, if you intend to use your basil plant for cooking, do not let it flower. As soon as you see flower buds, pinch the buds and two pairs of leaves under them out. When basil flowers the plant creates hormones that dramatically reduces the fragrance and taste of the plant. Good luck and good cooking. - Millet (1,093-)
     
  4. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Of course, do things as you prefer Tgplp, but you will find with basil, it will still be bushy and full even when grown crowded together - as seen in my pics.

    I used to pinch the tops off too, especially when growing from seed as my basil above was, but now I only cut when I am harvesting and no longer pinch the tops off. I find it actually gets fuller if you just leave it alone.

    Basil is an annual and it will eventually die off, especially when allowed to flower, which tells the plant it is time to make seed and die. It's life can be prolonged if you don't allow it to flower, and as Millet already alluded to, the flavor will be much better.

    I find that basil is at it's best when grown from seed, and harvested 3-4 times, then planted new. When it is grown directly in the garden though, it can perform much better, and the leaves are plentiful.

    It should perform well under your fluorescent, as it did under mine a bunch of times. Feed it with a fertilizer high in nitrogen.

    Good Luck, Tgplp!

    : )
     
  5. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    Thanks you guys! This is good information for my basil seedlings. I don't quite understand the pinching part... do you just take off the two highest leaves? Can you clip them off? Or pick and pinch them? Does it matter? Thanks for the help!
    ~tgplp
    p.s. does it need to be hot for the basil? can they wilt?
     
  6. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    No, it doesn't really matter - I just use my thumb nail to cut them off. You can snip with scissors too if you want.

    You can remove the the top part of the shoot, and 2 new shoots will soon develop. Just leave a bit of growth below, so the plant will resume growing and you can harvest again later.

    I wouldn't worry about 'pinching' if you grow from seed though. Just let the plants take off and mature. When you take the first harvest, this is a sort of pruning in itself.

    : )
     
  7. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    Does this include starting from a seedling? And also, how often should I water the basil?
    Thanks, Hollyberry Lady!
    ~tgplp :)
     
  8. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Yes, when growing basil from seed I never pinch the shoots until harvest time. However, it's really about personal preference, as opposed to right or wrong.

    Keep the well draining medium good and moist but not soggy, and water once or twice a week depending on levels of sunshine. Let the water run and drain out of the bottom of the pot.

    I also like to shower my indoor growing basil once a week, to keep mites at bay. Make sure to rinse the undersides of the leaves most especially, because this is where spider mites reside.

    : )
     
  9. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    To add to HB's posting, there are literally 100's of different varieties of basil. Some varieties are annuals, and some varieties are perennials. Not knowing what variety was purchased, its difficult to say which variety tgpip is growing. If she decides to produce a nice full plant, by pinching off the tops, save them and use them for spice in meals. When growing basil in indoor containers add a small amount of fertilizer every month. It is easier to remember when it is time to fertilize, if you get in the habit of fertilizing your plants on the first day of the month. Most growers water basil once every week, however check the soil for its moisture content before watering. Under no circumstances let the container become dry. When watering your Basil make sure to water at the base of the plant avoiding showering the leaves and stems. Basil is a pick and grow again type of plant. Harvest a few leaves off a number of plants rather than removing all the leaves off just one plant. Pick the top leaves first, by doing so the plant will grow all year round indoors. - Millet (1,092-)
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2010
  10. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    Yikes, I certainly do not want spider mites in my basil! Especially since I am going to cook with the basil. I don't want spider mite salad! :) Thanks so much for the advice. I'm surprised that the basil isn't labeled, I wish I knew what type of basil it is! Of course, all basil looks the same to me, except for some basil is purple and some is green. My basil is green, but I doubt that even helps a little! I wonder if my basil is an annual or a perennial.
    Thanks again!
    ~tgplp
     
  11. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    It's likely an annual, but you can keep it going by consistently trimming and harvesting the leaves. There are many varieties like Millet said, but I assumed it was a common variety when you said you got them for 99 cents - likely at the grocery store.

    If you ever do want to collect seed, stop trimming the shoots, and allow the plants to produce flowers...seeds will soon follow.

    Yes, keep the plants showered because spider mites are especially attracted to edible plants indoors. As long as you shower them once a week though, they'll be just fine.

    : )
     
  12. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    Hollyberry Lady,
    yes, this basil plant sure looks common to me. I mean, it smells normal, and it looks like every other basil plant I've ever seen! :) Okay, that was kind of random! I might want one basil plant to go to seed, so I can grow those plants next year. What do you do to get the seeds, just pick them off and dry them?
    Thanks!
    ~tgplp :)
     
  13. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Yup! They are usually black and you can dry them on a plate for about a week. Don't collect them until the pods turn brown.

    : )
     
  14. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    ok, thanks Hollyberry Lady! I hope that I can collect some seeds, and grow some more basil next year!
    ~tgplp :)
     
  15. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    Just let the plants flower and die back naturally...you'll have seeds!

    : )
     
  16. leaf kotasek

    leaf kotasek Active Member

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    i once made the mistake of buying a pot of basil from a grocery store; it's way better to grow them from seed! the basil was WAY too crowded; they were sickly and falling over. there was also quite a buildup of salt in the soil. would that be from too much chemical fertilizer?

    yup, i'm back to growing basil from seed. i love globe basil!
     
  17. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I agree...basil from seed is just the best!

    Yes, likely the salt build-up was from chemical fertilizer.

    If the basil is grown in a deep enough pot and kept well watered, even if it's a bit crowded, it can still do well.

    The ones from the grocery store though are usually in too small of a pot, and should be transplanted into something bigger right away.

    : )
     
  18. leaf kotasek

    leaf kotasek Active Member

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    i'm going to grow more basil from seed this year. indoors and outdoors, i think.
     
  19. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    It grows super easily from seed and you will get a really big harvest of leaves if you grow it directly in the garden most especially! It's quite something.

    : )
     
  20. leaf kotasek

    leaf kotasek Active Member

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    i love to grow tons of herbs every year--- that way i (and everyone who gets within 10 ft. of me) can gorge on food laced with fresh herbs! i have 9 little oreganos i started in the fall; they're going outside when it warms up a bit.

    yes, i've always had a good crop when i've grown basil from seed outdoors. i'd like to try a perennial variety. do you know if perennial basil will grow outside in zone 7?
     
  21. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I would look for a type that your local nursery suggests is suitable for your zone. With the mild temperatures you've had lately, I would think it would thrive!

    : )
     
  22. tgplp

    tgplp Active Member

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    I'm interested in growing oregano, but I can't find any oregano seeds! Do you have to start this herb from seedlings? And does this herb need hot weather? Because that is something that Seattle does not have... at least until late July and August.
    ~Tgplp :)
     
  23. vitog

    vitog Well-Known Member

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    Oregano seeds should be easy to find. I know that you can order them from Stokes, among others. The taste quality of oregano is quite variable. I've been told by Italian neighbors that the best oregano is cloned from traditional named varieties. You should be able to find good quality plants at Italian grocery stores in the spring. Since it is a relatively hardy perennial that is easy to propagate, you only need to buy one plant, unless you want several varieties.

    Oregano grows like a weed in Vancouver; so it should do just fine in Seattle.
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2010
  24. leaf kotasek

    leaf kotasek Active Member

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    i started out with one oregano plant--- it just keeps dividing and dividing and dividing... nurseries always sell oregano plants; just pick the variety you like the smell of! unless you really wanted to grow it from seed. i've never done that, so i can't comment on it.

    rock on, though. :D
     
  25. The Hollyberry Lady

    The Hollyberry Lady New Member

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    I've grown Oregano from seed many times. I find Greek Oregano to be the best and most flavorful - only my opinion though.

    The nurseries usually only carry the most standard and common varieties of all herbs. If you want special and more unique types, you'll find them in mail-order seed catalogues.

    : )
     

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