The three basil ladies you see here started out in life from a very tough place. The attending gardener was doing his best to kill them. I had placed them in a gallon jug container outside with the micro-nutrient mixture I use for my hydroponic efforts. The jug was just a discarded water container, made of plastic, of course, and mostly clear. Me neglecting to darken it so that the algae would not grow was a big mistake. Algae is an amazing organism in that, with a little water and sun, its abundant and rapid growth is virtually guaranteed. I would imagine that the high nutrient content in the water did nothing to help that situation, as well.
By the end of the first day, the algae was already growing in the jug, which was probably no big deal for the moment, but the basil were noticeably suffering, probably mostly from the shock of being separated from the parent plant abruptly, by way of my scissors. I think a lot of it had to do with the way in which I cut them, leaving absolutely no root growth for them to begin life in a new environment with. By the end of the second day, I counted the experiment as all but dead in the water (literally and figuratively).
However, life will find a way, and so it went with these three little ladies. I transferred their lifeless and wilted bodies into the three jars you see here, filling each about a third full with clean gravel, then another third of the way with the same micro-nutrient mix I was using outside (not the same stuff…it had been overtaken by the algae…just the same mixture). I placed them in my windowsill, and within a couple of days, they had bounced right back (the aluminum keeps the algae from getting a foothold). You should see the root system on these plants now! Hundreds of tiny roots growing out of the portion of the plant that I initially cut from the parent. It’s really kind of amazing.
The peppers you see on the table beside the basil are also products of a hydroponic effort and with many more still on the way from the same plant, growing in nothing but expanded clay pellets for support, and the micro-nutrient mixture in which the pepper plants roots are quite happy.
I can safely say that, between my soil-based efforts versus the hydroponic-based planets, the soil-less stuff is winning magnificently. Not to mention that it’s just plain fun!