basil mix

pearsaml(6)April 19, 2011

last year I had no luck with basil-- i planted them in miracle grow organic potting soil. 3 plants, and they just sat there. they grew tiny leaves, when they grew, but mostly nothing happened, all summer, until they bolted. This year I want to try to make my own mix-- I've been reading some of the recipes, but I am not clear about the ground bark. My source for this is home depot-- what kind of bark am I looking for? Pine? Cedar? Is there anything I should AVOID, since I half expect to get to home depot and they only have one option?

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What kind of basil... the woodier varieties are usually foolproof. Particularly in containers, the popular genovese basil is sensitive to overwatering, easily developing root rot or stalling growth.

Take a look at the Containers and Water Movement thread to see an exhaustive discussion of container soil mechanics, and ideal mixes. The 5:1:1 mix is working great for my basil this year, though I've used conventional mixes and had satisfactory results simply by watering rarely.

Cedar should not be used as a soil component, its aromatic oils / polyphenols will suppress the growth of many plants. The same is true of cypress, to a lesser extent. Hardwood *bark* is hard to find, decomposes quickly, and causes other problems. Products labeled as hardwood mulch are usually entire trees chipped and shredded - even worse from the perspective of soil ingredients. Pine bark or Fir bark are good options. There are lots of perspectives on ideal particle size, but from my understanding - if the product has a pretty even distribution of particles from dust to about 3/8 in, it can be confidently used without any screening. Particles up to 1/2 inch are also acceptable. Larger particles should ideally be screened or picked out. Fewer very fine particles will increase the serviceable life and drainage properties of the soil even more, but will decrease water retention. Too many fine particles can be compensated for to some extent by leaving out some or all of the peat moss.

Composted bark is ideal, but uncomposted bark will work if the particle size is good.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:04PM
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red_chucks(5 (Chicago))


Basil is usually easy to grow. My one tip is to not let it get cold--it just pouts all summer if it ever gets its feet cold. I start mine inside at the beginning of April and put them out at the beginning of June in Chicago--that's plenty of time. I bought plants one year from in front of a big garden store and they never grew a bit--I realized they must have been left outside during a late spring cold spell.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2011 at 11:15PM
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