Growing Basil! (Part 2) Sprouting and Potting up.




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Growing Basil! (Part 2) Sprouting and Potting up.

A month has past since I decided to take the plunge and try growing basil from the little promotional pack that came with pasta. It was a spur-of-the-moment decision, but so much has transpired in a month since. I can't put it all into one article, but briefly :

1) The basil seeds germinated and sprouted.
2) Researching online, I learnt I had to "pot up" or the basil plants would die of overcrowding soon.
3) I rushed to the florist during golden week and got supplies and a new tomato sapling...
4) I potted up my basil into a small pot. They have grown a second set of 'real' leaves.
5) I transplanted my tomato sapling into a bigger pot and put up a cage around it.

Today, I will focus on my basil sprouting and "potting up" :

In mid-April, I planted my basil seeds that came with a bottle of pesto sauce. Per instructions, I was to place it in indirect sun, adequate warmth and good ventilation. In 3-4 days, the first of my seeds germinated, and I could see a bit of the white sprout revealing itself.


In about 10 days, almost all of the seeds germinated. The pack called for 7-8 seeds, but as impatient as I was, I had put in another 3 seeds after the first 4 days.


Looking back, that is a terrible move because of how small the pack was.  In fact the pack was never meant to (despite what it claims) hold the plants permanently, and even if it did, such a small pack can only sustain a single basil plant.

I know this because within 2 weeks, 9 seeds sprouted, leading me to scramble online for more information. What I learned shocked me : It is recommended that basil plants should be planted 6 inches (about 15cm) away from each other, and in at least 10 cm of soil. The promotional pack is 4cm wide. Commercial basil pots squash many plants together, but each individual plant never grows more than a few leaves, and will all die in a month.  As would mine as if I left it as it was.

No. Not my basil!

I headed out to a nearby florist called : Hana Koubou Flower Factory. It is an amazing place and  caters to professionals, amateurs or just people looking to buy a beautiful bouquet for any occasion. I like that all three were in one - usually professional gardening shops don't do bouquets and vice versa. I'll have to do a review of the place later.

And... I bought these and  set about potting up my basil. Potting up simply means to move a small sapling, often grown from seed together, into a bigger pot when required. Because seasoned gardeners will know to sow the seeds further away from each other, potting up usually happens when the seeds have grown about 2-3 sets of leaves. On the other hand, because of my mistake, I have to first move my pack of saplings into a small pot and then pot them up again and separate them when they grow bigger.

Here's how to pot up.

1) First I bought a small pot about 5cm in radius. It's not big, but much larger than the pack, and will serve well as a temporary home.

2) Line the bottom of the pot with mesh, or in my case some dried wet tissue to prevent soil from falling through while letting water drain. Next, put in some small pebbles. Mine are artificial, bought from the florist.


3) Fill up the pot with soil and prepare to move over the basil saplings.


4) Gently remove the saplings as a block and embed it into the soil. Water the newly potted plant!


5) The end! Here's my basil in its new pot... in the long pot that will be its permanent home in the future. With it is the tomato sapling I just bought as well.


6) And here's how it looks exactly a month after first sowing the seeds. What started as a single free pack has quickly grown into a much larger project... I hope that everything goes well!

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I'm an aspiring architect pursuing/living my dream of working in Japan.
I work in Tokyo, but live across Futagotamagawa in Oakhouse Kajigaya, Kawasaki.

Working in Japan is hard, but there's lots of opportunities to play hard as well.
I hope to share a little of my experience with everyone through this blog.