Organic Fertilization of Fresh Market Sweet Basil in a Greenhouse

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1173.

Fresh-market sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is in high demand from specialty produce markets and commercial restauranteurs. Many consumers are also demanding produce that has been organically grown. Three hydroponic media systems were evaluated twice over two years, rockwool slabs, perlite frames, and commercial sphagnum peat/perlite/compost medium, where the bag was laid flat on the bench. Plants grown in these systems were fertilized with nutrient solutions derived from either organic or conventional, saltbased fertilizer sources. Few differences in yield were detected between basil plants grown in the commercial medium with either fertilizer source. Total yield from plants grown in perlite with the organic fertilizer was 22% greater in the first study and 100% greater in the second study than those for plants grown with the conventional fertilizer. Plants grown in rockwool with the conventional fertilizer were 17% more productive in the first study and 46% more productive in the second study than those grown with the organic fertilizer. Taste test panelists (69%) could discern differences between samples from organically and conventionally grown basil plants, yet no preferences were shown.

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