This is probably the 5th or 7th plant I’ve grown from Thai Basil that came to me at a restaurant. But this time it made a really nice rootball, and I figured it’d be a good start to get back into the blogging…
I’ll go into the ‘hacking’/pre-planting side of this in another post, but here’s the planting portion…
Step 1. Dig a hole.
In my case, the container with the plant and rootball was around 4″ (10cm) deep. We also have really sandy soil here in NC, so I’ve developed a little bonus bit I’ll share at the end which enhances growth while limiting erosion. I made the whole about 10″ deep, and 8″ diameter.
Step 2. Fill with good stuff.
We had a container that I tried a lettuce hack in – but the lettuce died. So I broke up the potting soil / vermiculite mix and filled the bottom half of the new Thai Basil’s home.
Step 3. Extract plant and rootball.
[I usually make sure the starter plant is well watered the day before (and hopefully throughout its starter-phase), so that the soil is well-compacted. If the plant is just a touch too big for the container it’s in, the roots will have grown in a little “upside-down crown” around the bottom of the starter container. This will help hold the rootball together during the transplant phase.]
Cover the top of the container with a flat hand, holding the stem gently between your middle and ring fingers. Flip the whole thing over, and gently squeeze the container from all sides. Press lightly on the bottom of the container if the rootball doesn’t release on its own – and gently tap if the light pressure doesn’t do the job.
Step 4. Fill in around the plant and rootball.
Using some of the dirt removed when digging the hole, fill in on top of the potting soil / vermiculite mix and around the rootball we just placed. If you’re quick with math, a 10″ hole, half-filled, and a 4″ rootball means the top of the rootball is still 1″ below “ground level”. That’s intentional, see the next step…
Step 5. Sculpt the surround.
When I fill in around the plant and roots, I’ll leave a slight down-slope so that the sandy soils of the area we live in will actually funnel water to the plant itself. In addition, the down-slope will allow the sand dirt on the surface to run towards the plant base instead of away from it. (One thing we’ve learned living here: erosion, even from rain, can quickly expose the top layer of plant roots and that makes for a very unstable stalk.)
Step 6. Water.
Water the newly grounded plant liberally. It’s probably been stressed by the relocation, and water in the surrounding soil will help encourage the roots to expand out and down into their new home.