baby basils grow up fast

Today I embark on a change I’ve been nervous about: planting my baby basils. And I mean planting them, like in soil. (I’d love to plant the parent basils too, but for the time being I don’t have pots deep enough. We’ll get there.)

Man, if I feel this way about putting plant roots in dirt, I can’t imagine how parents feel sending their kids off to kindergarten.

Now, not all three of my current basil-ettes will be going in soil. Only the original two, which have the most robust root structures an are starting to outgrow their watery containers, will be planted today. That’ll help them thrive and also make room for more little basils to be propagated.

The Supplies

Pots? Check. Mini scooper? Check. Good quality potting soil? Check. Filtered water in the watering can? Check. A sunny southern window, as a new eventual location? Check.

The pots: I’m using two hygge candles that I burned a while ago but never used as planters because of my big move back to the city. I bought these more than a year ago at Phipps, a.k.a. one of my favorite places in the world. (It’s a botanical garden in Pittsburgh that does different shows during the year; my favorite of all time thus far is the Japanese cultural show. I’ll post pictures from it one of these days!)

The mini scooper: This is so I don’t make a mess in my apartment. You can check out the set I bought it with here*, or read more about it in my previous post here.

*By the way – for all you Amazon shoppers out there, start using – you can choose a charitable fund to donate to each time you shop! I donate to the ASPCA.

The soil:

I use a nice, inexpensive, organic-gardening-approved potting soil from my local nursery. I strongly recommend talking to the nursery staff; that’s who pointed me to this bag, plus I got to meet the nursery’s resident cat.

I strongly recommend talking to the nursery staff.

The water & the window: Although tap water doesn’t seem to have upset my basil plants, I prefer using filtered water because we’re in a city and I know we have not-the-greatest tap water. As for the window, for the time being the basils will remain situated in my eastern-facing kitchen window. Eventually they’ll likely move to my southern-facing bedroom window, although they may not if they continue to thrive in the kitchen. Another thought I had is that I don’t want them to freeze as it gets colder, and I tend to open my bedroom windows more often than the kitchen windows. Basils might be permanent kitchen residents.

The Plan

What I read to prep for planting:

Now, I’ve noticed two recurring suggestions for basil: (1) southern-facing windows for bright, full sun and (2) well-draining pots. My basil plants have been doing fantastic in an eastern-facing window growing in straight up water, so I’m going to temper those suggestions a bit. The pots I’ve chosen don’t have much drainage, but I won’t overwater the basils; I’ll use the same method I use with similar planting situations where I use my finger to test soil dampness prior to watering. I’ll also add a few rocks at the bottom of the container to add a little extra drainage.

For now, the basils will be staying in the same eastern window they grew up in. Once they’re a little bigger and the weather starts acting like actual autumn weather, I might shift them to a south window.

As for fertilizer, I’ve read that that’s a very good idea for indoor basil and it’s something I use for my houseplants anyway, as you might’ve seen in this prior post. Joyful Dirt, the stuff I use, is organic so I’m fine to use it on plants I’m going to eat from (like the basil.) I’ve actually used small amounts directly in the adult basil plants’ water before. My one concern is that these baby basils are still young, so I don’t want to burn them with fertilizer; I’ll only use a very small amount in the top layer of soil and gently water it into their new homes.

The Process

Belting music will be necessary to think through this process today – and so, because nobody puts basil in a corner, I chose some good ol’ Fall Out Boy.

The first planting was of the smaller of the two basils:

The older basil propagate:

I had to do a little thinking on this one. Initially I was concerned because of the length of the smaller basil’s roots – I don’t want to crush this bigger dude’s roots! Then I thought – the roots probably elongated like that to spread out and search for nutrients. In a nutrient-rich soil, shouldn’t they not need all that size? As long as I’m gentle, shouldn’t it be okay? I then consulted one of my new favorite books, Lessons from Plants by the totally rad Beronda L. Montgomery. See page 60:

Plants act as “dynamic strategists,” changing their behavior based on their perception of stress or environmental limitations…When the nutrient supply is low or patchy…some plants do use energy to stimulate root proliferation and elongation…”

Beronda L. Montgomery, Lessons from Plants

It’s safe to say nutrient levels were wishy-washy in the water. So I think the basil shouldn’t need all that extra root in it’s new, more nutrient-ensured home. Thus I’m less concerned about root loss and think it’ll be fine to plant this dude in the other hygge pot.

The Finished Product

The first planted:

The second planted:

Look how good they look!

Other Plant Updates

I’ve been thinking lately: what is it about plants? Well, for one thing, there’s something to watching them do well. My prayer plant’s grown two new leaves in the last month and is growing well; the new cat grass I just planted less than a week ago is already huge! My little jade is officially ready to try soil, I have health African violets, and I’m working on rescuing my palm. The catnip is coming back strong and even has some new growth, although there are a few dead leaves that could use pruning. And I’m growing yet another little pot of cat grass in an old KT tape container.

I’ve lost some plants – the succulents I tried to grow from seed, the original wheatgrass, half a bloodleaf, and likely the mystery plant – but I’m thankful for those that have survived and what I’ve learned.

Oh, and if you’re ever wondering what I do with some of my basil: Io ho fatto un piatto del cavatappi con feta fresca, olio d’oliva, e lo basilico oggi. (I’m back to practicing Italian, take it easy on me if it isn’t perfect.)

“Today I made a plate of cavatappi with fresh feta cheese, olive oil, and the basil.”

May your cheese be fresh and local and your plants be happy this week. Thanks for reading! ✿

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