Non-Circulating Hydroponics

  • We have learned that Basil is the perfect year-around leafy-green to grow in your window area or on your windowsill.  Here is why…
  • Basil grows well in moist situations and has no problem with wet roots.
  • Basil does exceptionally well with homemade handcrafted organic fertilizer solutions.
  • Basil flourishes with the addition of the right amount of humic substances, specifically fulvic acids, which makes the Basil healing and medicinal in nature.
  • Basil can be cultivated through simple cuttings, with the stem submerged in water and the leaves covered lightly with a clear covering
  • Basil grows well in low light conditions and can even survive and flourish where it doesn’t receive direct light.
  • Basil gives you more flavor, nutrition and excitement than any other leafy green.
  • Basil is preferred in its raw state when made into pesto, one of the world’s most exciting and fulfilling flavors.
  • Don’t waste your valuable window space or grow lights on lettuce.  Make Basil your windowsill crop of choice.
  • Basil loves static hydroponics and gentle pruning, and flourishes indoors all year-around.
  • Make Basil the queen of your static hydroponic window gardens.

The Sterilite black 10 gallon stacker totes we used are perfect for east, west, or south-facing window use.  The black color prevents algae growth in the nutrient solution, and saves having to spray paint the totes and lids black.  These are the perfect size.  We removed the handles.  The holes where handles attach will cause nutrient solution overflow if you fill the totes too full.  Just keep the nutrient solution slightly below the holes, and it will be the perfect depth for net pots.

Lay out a nice pattern of holes for your net pots.  We settled on 12 holes which we evenly spaced..  Use a 2 inch hole saw to drill holes, and the trick is to run the drill in reverse.  Running it backwards makes a clean nice hole and the teeth of the hole saw don’t grab.  We pre-drilled the 12 holes with a smaller drill to mark the lid and give us a clean starting hole.

The net pots we recommend are the only ones to buy.  They are strong and have an adequate lip to work perfectly in a 2 inch diameter hole.  Other brands of net pots have problems falling through, are flimsy, break, and just don’t work as well.  Reading the Amazon testimonials will teach a lot about these things.

The things we are teaching you here can save a lot of time and money, and save a lot of grief from making mistakes.  You can grow many other types of plants in these non-circulating hydroponic totes, especially if you have a greenhouse or adequate sunlight or grow lights.  Then, growing lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, etc. is just fine.  Just don’t let the totes get too hot in the sun and cook the roots.

One of the most valuable things that we can teach you is about the grow medium.  Many people use round clay pebbles in their net pots or other kinds of grow medium.  We use something better.  We buy bundles of quilt-sized sheets of polyester quilt batting that is 1/2 inch, 5/8 inch, or 3/4 inch thick.  Batting in these sizes will do just fine.  We use a sharp pair of scissors to cut it into 3/4 inch cubes to start all of our seeds, even for outdoor garden and vegetable plants.  We have had tremendous success with this method.  Then we take the tiny cubes and seedlings and plant them out as desired.

We will use trays and clear plastic lids as mini seed-starting greenhouses.  We will line the bottom with little wet cubes until the bottom is covered.  Each cube supports the cubes next to it.  Then we put the tray on a level flat surface, and underneath the tray we put a special seed-starting heat mat.  Then we add a little water to the tray, so that there is a tiny bit covering the bottom and wicking up into each cube.  Then we place 3 seeds on each cube.  We want the healthiest and most robust seed to grow.

We put the dry seeds on a plate and spread them out, and then we use a damp finger tip to pick up 3 seeds and transfer them to each cube.  It works amazingly well.  Back and forth we go until every cube is seeded  Then we cover the tray with a clear dome and then lay a towel over the whole thing to keep it warm and dark.  Seeds start to sprout and grow in several days.  This way we can keep a very close watch on what is happening.  For seed starting, we use a humic/fulvic solution, but use no fertilizers of any kind.  The seeds have enough of everything they need for a while.

When the seeds are up and sending new roots into each cube, it is time to plant them if you wish.  You can also let them grow in the tray a little in the light.  Don’t let them overheat in direct sun.  Opening the dome and leaving it ajar a little will prevent overheating.

For outdoor plants, it is time to put the tiny seedlings in a pot and potting mix.  For non-circulating hydroponics, it is time to put the seedlings in the net pots.  Just make sure the little cube will be in a position where it can wick moisture.  Once the roots are established, they will grow down into the hydroponic solution.

For non-circulating hydroponics we cut 2 inch squares of 1/2 or 3/4 inch thick polyester quilt batting, round the corners a little, dip them in nutrient solution, and gently press then into the bottom of net pots.  Then we put the net pots in the holes in the lid of the tote so that the bottom of the net pot sits in the solution.  If the square of quilt batting is very wet or submerged too deeply, we will add another piece or two.  Then we put the tiny cube and seedling in position, just to where the bottom of the cube is wet and stays wet.

As the little plant grows, we cut another piece of polyester batting, round it a little, cut a slit in it to the middle, and carefully work it around the stem of the seedling as it grows,  Sometimes we gently separate the pieces into two layers, making the pieces 3/8 inch thick.  We will add pieces until the little seedling is supported and the top layer is dry.  Damp top layers will grow algae over time, so the fix for that problem is to cover them with new batting pieces until the net pots are dry on top.  The algae will die when it doesn’t have light.  The lower pieces of polyester batting keep the roots moist and protected.  This whole thing works amazingly well.

There are companies that sell cubes of polyester batting for horticultural purposes, but they are very expensive, and we have found that layers work better in net pots.  The way we do it works far better than cubes or better than clay pellets.

Next we need to discuss the hydroponic solution, which needs to be tailored to the plant you are growing.  Yet there are some great products and it isn’t that hard to do.  First you will need a good scale that weighs grams as well as ounces.  We use an electronic scale.  We also use an Ohaus triple beam balance scale.

One thing you need to know is that there usually is a base hydroponic fertilizer.  Then there are other components.  Mixing them all together dry, then adding them to the water, will cause some components to chemically react and precipitate to the bottom, becoming worthless and unavailable to your plants.

So the trick is to first adjust your pH to neutral (pH7) or slightly lower (pH 6.5), and then add the main fertilizer  component and dissolve.  Then completely dissolve the nitrogen component in some neutral pH water, and add it to the base nutrient solution.  Then add the magnesium component to some neutral water, and when dissolved, add that to the main solution.  Last you can add the humic/fulvic component to neutral water, then add it so the main solution..  It sounds complicated, but it is really easy.  We will explain it in more detail later.

When growing Basil we like to use a totally organic nutrient solution.  It works really well, even better than the very best chemical hydroponic solution.  That information will be forthcoming as well.