You can learn how to fertilize basil for success by considering three factors, and this article will discuss them shortly. We all know how basil is one of the best crops to grow, whether traditionally or via hydroponics, but one component that gardeners in the UK often overlook is its fertilising requirements.
The University of Minnesota Extension recommends getting your soil tested to know your basil’s proper fertiliser regimen. Remember that having a list of your soil needs to grow basil successfully will allow you to use fertilisers optimally. It’s best to get your soil tested first and apply the knowledge below.
How To Fertilize Basil For Success
When growing seedlings
As mentioned earlier, there are three considerations when fertilising basil, and the first one is you can feed when growing them as seedlings. A balanced liquid fertiliser should support seedlings’ growth, and you can provide this once a week. However, be mindful of your crops’ leaves since if they turn brown, you are probably overfertilising and burning your plants.
How does one avoid the risk of over fertilising basil? Doing a soil test is best because you can find out the quality and nutrients of the medium. Therefore, you might not even need to fertilise the basil seedlings, or amending the soil with compost during planting can suffice.
Another consideration to remember when learning how to fertilise basil is during transplanting. Some gardeners in the United Kingdom often start basil plants indoors if the conditions outside will be challenging to root the plants. And to further help with the establishment, you can incorporate fertiliser into the soil during transplanting.
You may also benefit from feeding with dry fertiliser at least once during the growing season to support healthy basil plants. If you have just planted seedlings in the UK garden, all-purpose fertiliser will help basil every two weeks. However, do note that caution is necessary with dry fertiliser because they can burn the leaves upon contact.
Clemson Cooperative Extension even recommends fertilising two months after planting basil if you notice that the plants are pale green and growing slowly. The extension recommends side dressing with calcium nitrate in addition to watering and mulching. The rate is ¼ pound for every 100 square feet.
For indoor growing
You can also grow basil with other crops in the greenhouse, but you have to remember that fertilising indoor basil will be a different regimen than growing outdoors. You must provide a balanced liquid fertiliser at half the amount you use in the UK garden and feed twice a week.
What about those growing container basil plants? Those who grow indoors can feed once every four weeks, but this can be more frequent if you have the pots outdoors. More so, the ideal fertiliser for container basil is water-soluble that you will dilute before pouring onto the soil.
How To Water Basil
Now that you know how to fertilise basil, it only fits that you also learn how to water basil correctly. Like other green leafy crops, you can assume that moist soil is essential to growing green and productive basil plants. However, you have to be mindful of this practice because watering incorrectly can wet the leaves and foliage.
Incorrect watering will encourage mildew and other fungal diseases that can affect your plants. Therefore, aim to water at the base instead of the top of the plants. If you have a greenhouse, avoid overhead irrigation, and those growing in the UK garden should skip high-pressure watering equipment to erode the ground.
A watering technique appropriate for basil is by thoroughly soaking them slowly. You can use a soaker hose or a watering can to moisten the soil. And since they are slow-running and low-pressure, you don’t run the risk of waterlogging the ground to kill the basil plants.
You don’t have to water during the rainy season because overwatering is detrimental to basil plants. Check if the top 2 inches of the soil is dry before watering. More so, aim to water early in the morning to ensure that the plants will dry up when the cold night temperatures happen.
How To Prune Basil
You can grow basil in the polytunnel to maintain the ideal growing environment and produce healthy plants. However, you can also do another maintenance practice to encourage the productivity of basil. Basil will benefit from pruning to create more leaves, and you can do this when you saw the first six leaves.
You can continue this practice on the branches with six leaves and prune back to the first leaf set. Some gardeners in the UK also pinch the centre shoots to prevent the flowering of your new plants. Otherwise, you can cut the flowers off.
When it comes to popular herbs in the UK, perhaps the top picks would always include basil. But to have an excellent yield of green herbs, you must know how to fertilize basil and remember the three considerations. For example, you can feed seedlings to support their growth using a balanced fertiliser once a week.
On the other hand, do a soil test when planting or transplanting basil to gauge if you need to fertilise. Sometimes, you can amend the soil with compost or side-dress with calcium nitrate. Lastly, water-soluble fertiliser once every four weeks is optimal when growing basil in containers.