Harvest #4

Solid harvest today. 3 cups of pesto. It’s delicious. We made pasta, and we made pesto roast beef and mozzarella¬† sandwiches. Yum.

I rinsed the outdoor plants before trimming, then Cara did some extra rinsing to remove all the concrete dust.

Zeus was up to 19 inches, and Kepler a solid 16.

Buds and concrete

Zeus and Summer just started to bud, so I nipped off the buds right away.

In the parking lot out back they’re mixing concrete. The dust is getting everywhere, and I think it’s dehydrating the plants. Hopeful some good rainfall upcoming will wash them off. Morty was completely dry and looking said, but has started to perk up after being watered.

We’ll harvest soon, but I’d like to hold off for the pine nuts to arrive from Amazon. They were supposed to arrive to day, but tracking is showing them in Canada (wut).

Plant food and update

I fed Zeus and Kepler today, watering from the top with a rack on a bowl to allow excess to totally drain (get rid of those salts!). They took about 48-56oz of water to get some good drainage from the bottom. The water is a rusty color, but much lighter than when I watered from the top last time. So maybe there’s some validity to not having washed away the salts before. I also watered with the elephant pitcher, a little at a time, so as to be a little less disruptive to the top soil.

The outdoor plants are doing great as well. They didn’t need water since it’s been raining recently. Additionally, they should a decent amount of new dirt and nutrients to pull from since they’ve only been in their new pots for 2 weeks. I gave them a little bit of the left over fertilizer from Zeus and Kepler, but I’ll get them back in the feeding cycle next round after they’ve been in their new homes for about a month.

Kepler (above)

Zeus (below)

Above: Morty

Below: left to right, Summer Sunshine, Prince, Ghost Fire

Plant Whisperer

Zeus and Kepler needed watering today. I suspect that there may be salt build up in the soil. When I water them from the top with fertilizer, I leave them in a bowl where excess liquid pools up at the bottom. I think that this keeps salt levels high at the bottom of the pot. This time, I used regular water and placed the pots on a rack above the bowl, allowing the excess water to drain out, hopefully removing excess salt completely. I did one elephants worth (our watering can) for each, which is about 56 oz which allowed a fair amount of water to drain out. It’s possible that the excess salt was stressing the plants, causing the aerial roots to form.

The other possibility, maybe more likely, is that the high chlorine content of the water is stressing the plants (more on this below). I should consider leaving water out overnight for the chlorine to evaporate, but I’m constrained to about 100 oz, and also by space. I don’t want Taco sticking his face in there (as it may have chemicals from the fertilizer in it). I’ll have to think more about a solution for that.

I came across this great resource: http://www.growell.co.uk/blog/2011/04/talking-to-your-plants-part-1-body-language

Some particularly interesting points:

Best place to look is new shoot growth. This will tell you if previous problems have been overcome.

Problems starting at the base of the plant

A shortage of main nutritional elements first appear near the base of the plant (they tend to flow freely to the top of the plant, where they are required). Nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium.

  • Yellowing of larger leaves from the tips and margins inwards: potassium
  • Yellowing of the tips spreading evenly back towards the stem of larger lower leaves: nitrogen
  • Dark purple tinge to larger green leaves and purpling of the stems: phosphorous deficiency

Color loss

  • Iron deficiency: interveinal¬† color loss.
  • Calcium deficiency: necrosis of young leaves at the growing tips, looking brown and crispy, but early signs can also show as brown necrotic spots in the middle to older leaves.
  • Cold nights
  • Bleaching from light being too close
    • Initially leads to subtle loss of surface sheen followed by yellowing and rust spots a couple of weeks after the initial damage was done.
    • These leaves slowly start to die as the stomata fail to function properly.
    • 18 hours of intense light is very demanding on young plants, but bigger plants can deal with it better.
    • To keep cool, plant over transpires. May immediately suffer from blotchy marks and loss of shine, additional thickness, and a smooth green look for a few days. Then you start to see loss of color all over, especially between the leaf veins where rusty spots often appear. The latter become visible a couple weeks after the damage has been done, a few inches under the fresh shoots.
      • Room too hot, light too close at some stage.
      • Frequently mistaken for nutrient difficiency, which is actually quite rare.
  • wind burn
  • overly warm nutrient solutions
  • limiting oxygen at the root level that’s required for nutrient uptake.
    • Makes plant look droopy, grow very slowly, and deventually develop colour loss and deficiencies.
  • Magnesium defficiency: show on middle to older leaves starting off by turning yellow, but the leaf veins stay green (interveinal chlorosis). As deficiency progresses, brown rusty spots / burnt patches on leaves will occur. This is easily corrected by a foliar spray of CalMag.

The light bleaching description sounds an awful lot like what happened to a few of Zeus and Kepler’s leaves early on. I just need to go easier on the light, and I think I have.

Color loss on old large leaves

Very normal. Often lose color due to lack of light and then fall off. Leaves will be replaced by new growth nearer the light source.

Yellowing of leaf tips

Common and hard to avoid. With no other symptoms, probably mild form of wind burn.

Purple stems

  • Phosphorus deficiency (also check for purpling of the leaves).
  • Cold conditions
  • Normal plant genetics

Leaf droop

  • Natural for latter part of 18 hour light cycle.

Leaf loss

Larger bottom leaf loss is not unusual for fast-growing, light-loving plants. Light competition, and key nutrients are directed up and out to new growth.

Upward leaf tip curl

  • leaf is trying to retain moisture. – light positioned too close.
  • Wind burn
  • Lights too close
  • not enough air exchange
  • typically environmental rather than nutrient

Curling down of leaf margin

  • Problems in root zone
  • Overfeeding
  • inappropriate temperatures
  • unsatisfactory levels of oxygen

Curling up margins

  • Same environmental issues that trigger leaf tip curl up.

Leaves too small

  • overfeeding the plant

curl or hook downwards at the tip

  • overfeeding
  • over-watering

Leaf color too dark or dull

  • overfeeding

Leaves a little too narrow, lacking in colour, and under sized/misshapen

  • Deficiency of a main element – increase feed strength slightly.

Twisting and mutating of new leaves

  • Unstable genetics
  • Lack of calcium, silicon
  • More common: excess chlorine (de-chlorinate tap water in a bucket for at least 12 hours before use)

Looks like the mutating leaves on Zeus might be due to high chlorine content in the tap water. I’ll try to make sure that I have water around for at least 12 hours before I water Zeus and Kepler.


General update

The state of the basil is strong. The outdoor plants seem to have dug into their new dirt. Ghost Fire and Morty are showing some inverted leaves (wrapping up at the edges). There’s a number of things it could be (more on this in a future post), but for now I’m going to chalk it up to the move. We’ll check back in in a week or so to see how they’re doing.

Kepler looks very healthy, fluffy, and happy. Zeus looks happy for the most part, but is showing thinner leaves, and has a fair number of misshapen leaves. More on this, too, in a future post.

Left to right: Summer Sunshine, Prince, Ghost Fire

Zeus (above), Kepler (below)


It seemed clear that all the outdoor basil were getting root bound. When I added water to the pot it didn’t take much to fill it up, and it didn’t stay wet for long.

We pulled each one out, loosed up (and tore off) the root layers that had formed on the outside, then replanted them. Prince, Ghost Fire, and Summer Sunshine all went into a big 8” x 23” planter, so they should have plenty of space and a decent amount of sunlight. Morty went into his own 6” pot.

Harvest #3

Big harvest today. Between Zeus, Kepler, Prince, and Ghost Fire, we got enough basil for a little over a cup of pesto. Cara noted that some of it smells of black licorice, and others of weed. Kepler and Zeus were both about 14 inches tall before the harvest, and Prince and Ghost Fire had long branches with several nodes, due to skipping a harvest.

I watered Zeus and Kepler with 24 oz each of plant food, as usually. I probably should have gone a little more to get more all the way through the pot.

The smaller basil are getting root locked. This weekend we’ll transfer Ghost Fire and Kepler into a rail hanging planter, and put Summer Sunshine and Morty in their old pots.

Overall, everyone is looking happy and healthy.

Heat wave

It’s been in the 90’s lately, and the plants are drying out faster. I’ve had to water the outdoor plants everyday, pretty much. Summer and Morty almost need to be watered twice a day because they’re pots are so small. I watered Zeus and Kepler from the bottom today.

Plant food update

I gave Zeus and Kepler both about 20 oz of plant food. They’re looking strong, although some of the big leaves from the top are blocking the smaller leaves on the bottom. I’ll let it go for now…

Everyone is looking happy and healthy.