Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fresh Basil all winter long

Last September ('07), Dave posted about starting some basil cuttings hydroponically. This was about at the beginning of the start of the end of the basil season. After years of disappointment and complete inability to grow anything that even resembled basil, I had finally had a successful planting in the herb garden for summer '07 - I actually grew basil!
I know, it isn't really that big of a deal for most, but for me I always seemed to have a brown basil thumb. No longer. I even was hoping that I would have enough in the garden to make some pesto. That was a big fat joke. I'd only put in one plant (figuring I'd kill it just I had murdered all of the others) and I babied that plant all summer long. Around the beginning of September, though, I began pulling pieces off to use at a furious pace and though my lone plant began to grow infinitely better, it just wasn't going to make a pesto load in return. No matter, I thought, I'll just use what I have and maybe try out Dave's experiment on my kitchen window sill...

I'm getting a real spring mindset and preparing to plant for summer '08, which will definitely include multiple basil plants, and they're all going to come from my window sill. I'm pleased to report that I've had fresh basil all winter long as a result of the hydroponic growing and frequent clipping:

The above photo was taken around Mid December of a clipping growing for about a month and a half. I had two others that I thought had good enough roots to plant in a small container. I placed them in the window of the upstairs room with a nice eastern exposure, but it was either too cold, too eastern, too dry, too something, and they withered and died. of course, I began to get paranoid that my brown basil thumb had returned, but I still had my kitchen hydroponic basil going, growing, so we soldiered on. I babied it, changing the water every 2 weeks and adding a small bit of the only fertilizer I had in the house, Schultz African Violet Plus™ Liquid Plant Food. I put a couple of drops in 2 cups of water, drained the plant's bottle and refilled it with the fertilized water. I didn't cut any until mid January, then I went to town, using whatever I needed whenever I needed. The plant responded well. We even had plenty of large leaves for the beautiful Caprese salad that Boogie helped to make on Easter Sunday:
(Boogie's own Caprese salad recipe, sans salt and pepper on the platter -
people can add those if they want them, he reasons, and that way Grandpa won't get too much salt)

This week, I snapped this photo:
The last remaining original cutting is on the right, and while it looks pretty spindly, it has provided well. It has grown well and been snipped at quite a bit. I started the 3 other bottles about 2 weeks ago for future spring planting, and they've already grown 1 ½" roots. I'll probably keep the original in the house for the occasional quick access.

Thanks for the idea, Dave!

I wonder if this would work for oregano, too?



Dave said...

Wow! You took that one and ran with it. I'm drooling over the salad, it's beautiful.

Funny, after the month or so I did that, I never followed up on it. Nice job. If this is the last of the cold, those things can go in the ground soon!

Brynners said...

I'm thinking of trying to keep my basil alive through the winter this year. Where did you make the original cut before placing the stem in the water? Did you treat the cut in any way?

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Chris and his Basil said...

Good job with the basil! Have you noticed how fast the roots grow? It's an extremely "rooty" herb isn't it? How tall did you let your basil grow?