If you are looking for that taste of the Mediterranean, then fresh Basil is an essential herb to have handy.
The AeroGarden range of indoor gardens are ideal for growing a variety of herbs and Basil is one of the most popular of them all. This fresh and fragrant herb is essential in Italian cooking.
Grown with the right amount of know-how, care, and attention, you can be harvesting fragrant basil for at least 4 months and possibly as long as six months!
Below I have compiled a handy and comprehensive guide to growing basil plants in your AeroGarden.
1. Pick and Plant Basil Seeds – Seed Pod Kits
Basil comes in many varieties and one of the fun things of growing this herb is exploring the different flavors. Luckily, AeroGarden have made this easy with a variety of seed pod kits to pick from that contain a wide range of these varieties.
- International Basil Seed Pod Kit -- This kit includes 9 pods and all the liquid nutrients you require to grow them, each pod is a different variety of basil: Napolitano, Genovese, Lemon. Marseille, Purple, Thai, Lime and Globe.
- AeroGarden Pesto Basil Seed Pod Kit -- For true Italian food lovers, this kit includes 9 pre-seeded Genovese Basil Pods and all the liquid plant food required to grow them.
- Pizza Herb Kit -- Perfect for pizza fans, this kit includes 7 pre-seeded pods which will grow Genovese Basil, Chives, Oregano, and Thyme.
Planting your Basil Seeds
Planting and germinating herbs is easy with any AeroGarden system, like the Farm Family that can do 12 or 24 seed pods at one time.
The following walkthrough will guide you through each step for prepping and planting the basil plant seeds.
Sanitizing Your AeroGarden for Basil Growth
This only applies to those who have used their AeroGarden for prior grows. If you are using your garden for the first time you can skip these steps and just do a rinse.
- Fill the water bowl with a mixture of water and either 6 cups of distilled white vinegar or 1/4 cups of chlorine bleach.
- Stir the mixture through your AeroGarden for at least 5 minutes with an air pump.
- Drain the water and rinse the tank out with fresh water.
- Fill the tank with fresh water and rinse the water through the system for at least five minutes using the air pump.
- Reset the nutrient timer.
Planting your Basil Seed Pod Kits
To successfully plant and germinate your seeds, take the following steps.
- Add distilled or fresh cool tap water to your AeroGarden tank, fill it up to the “Fill to Here” indicator.
- If your AeroGarden includes the “Plant Select” feature, in this case you will select ‘Herbs’ as the plant type.
- Place the AeroGarden basil pods in the empty slots of your AeroGarden. If you aren’t using the other slots, then space the basil pods out evenly.
- (Do not remove the labels from the pods, the labels act to inhibit algae growth, as well as providing useful information about the basil plants)
- Place the supplied germination domes on top of each pod.
- Move the light to its lowest position.
- Add nutrients, liquid plant food, by following the recommendations on the nutrient bottle to ensure you add the right amount. Don’t add more than the recommended amount.
- Nutrients should then be added every two weeks. The “Add Nutrient” reminder will prompt you when this is required.
Once you have completed these steps the basil seeds should germinate within 7 to 14 days.
2. Growing and Tending to Basil
In this section I will discuss the best practices to adhere to while growing your plants to help you get the best and tastiest crop possible.
- Remove Domes – Always do this before the green leaves are touching the dome. To avoid stressing the basil, this is best done just after the grow light has turned off, so the bright lights aren’t a sudden shock.
- Watering – It is best not to wait until you get “Add Water” reminders. Plants love fresh water, just ensure it is close to room temperature when you add it. Always use either fresh tap water or distilled water. Soften water or well water can be harmful to the plants.
- Temperature – Don’t be too worried about these basil getting too warm. Basil thrives in warm temperatures, but always keep an eye out for signs of “leaf burn.” If you see brown, dry, stressed, and/or spotted leaves at the top of the plant, then raise the lamp slightly. If you do see this, then you can help the plant by gently spraying water on basil leaves that are looking stressed.
- Lighting – To ensure the basil get as much light as possible, always have the light at its optimum height. In the case of basil plants, the gap should be between 1 and 3 inches from the top of the tallest leaves.
- Nutrients – Getting the nutrient levels right is essential, never be tempted to overfeed the plants as the nutrient mixture is formulated for optimum growth. Add nutrients every two weeks, as specified on the nutrient bottle that came with the kit.
3. Pruning Basil
Pruning basil correctly is essential to get the maximum yield from your plants. Basil grows as a bushy, multi-branched plant, so there are many stems with leaves. Pruning helps to keep your plant healthy and growing well. Luckily AeroGarden basil pruning isn’t difficult.
These are the instructions for pruning. Don’t be afraid to prune your plants, doing so will encourage bushy growth and provide greater harvests.
First Pruning -- The first prune should be done when the plant has three sets of leaves. At this stage, you should prune the top leaves. You should notice two sets of leaves beginning to grow from the main stem just below the base of the top leaves. Using a pair of scissors or a small set of garden shears, trim as close to the base as possible without damaging them.
Subsequent Prunings – Repeat the above steps for any set of larger leaves that has two new growths at its base.
Prune Flowers – Pruning these will ensure the plant uses all its energy on leaf growth.
Remove Dead or Brown Leaves – Don’t worry if you notice the odd dead or brown single leaf, simply snip these from the plant. It is important to remove these from the growth deck surface as they can encourage mold or algae growth.
What to avoid doing – Always leave the largest leaves at the bottom of the plant, they provide the basil plant with most of the energy it needs to sustain healthy growth. It is also important to never prune any more than a third of the plant at any one time.
4. Harvesting Basil
If you follow the above guidelines, you should be enjoying fresh basil in a remarkably short period of time. In the AeroGarden system,j basil can usually be harvested after around 35 to 40 days from planting. And if you harvest correctly, you can expect the plants to supply you with fragrant basil or herbs for many months.
Ultimately, harvesting basil is performed in much the same way as pruning them. Select the biggest and freshest looking leaves from the top of the plant and gently remove these with a pair of scissors or shears.
Take care not to leave too much of a stub on the stem, and as with pruning, also ensure that you never harvest more than a third of the plant at any one time.
Using this method means that every time you harvest, the leaves you harvest will be replaced with two new sets of leaves!
Growing and Harvesting Basil Tips and Tricks
These are some tips for growing and harvesting basil.
- Always have your grow lights at the optimum height, if necessary prune taller plants to get the lights closer to the bulk of your plants.
- Adding fresh water regularly helps ensure your plants are full of vitality.
- Never prune or harvest more than a third of the growth at any one time.
- Prune regularly, to get the maximum possible yield, prune your basil regularly.
AeroGarden Basil Final Thoughts
Fresh herbs are a taste explosion and it can’t get any fresher than harvesting them exactly when you need them.
Indoor gardens have a few limitations on what they can successfully produce. But, if there is one type of plant it excels at, then it’s herbs. Having a plentiful supply of fresh basil at your fingertips is an absolute joy for any cook.
The AeroGarden system has simplified the growing of herbs and plants. No matter how much of a green thumb you are, by following the above advice, you can be enjoying fresh basil in mere weeks.
If you’re looking for growing and harvesting tips for other plants, I have a few other guides: