In Part 1 of this installment, I wrote about how I seeded the holy basil, and prepped my plot for planting. Now we get to the fun part!
Before the actual planting, I had to draw out my beds and design a randomized 3 rep variety trial. I have learned that in any research design, you want to build in repetition. It makes the data stronger. Especially in horticulture research. If all of one variety was in a part of the plot that got damaged or was different than the rest (i.e. different soil composition than another spot), the data wouldn’t be accurately represented. So, having three different repetitions with randomized planting of the varieties is important.
First I drew out my 6 beds on a piece of paper and divided them into 3 sections (Rep 1, 2, and 3). Then I sequentially lettered 14 sections for each rep A-N.
Then I had to randomize the plantings. I created pieces of paper with the numbers of my varieties 1-14.
Starting at Rep 1, I would randomly pick out a number and record it next to the letter. The first number I picked was 6, so I wrote it on my paper as A(6). So in Rep 1, the first spot (A) would be planted with the variety type #6.
Then I picked out another number and recorded it for spot B, and so on and so forth until I finished with Rep 1. Then I put all the numbers back and did the same thing for Rep 2 and Rep 3.
Finally, my randomized 3 rep design was complete.
Then I had to make markers for each planting to make sure I could identify them in the field and plant everything correctly.
I had 30 ft rows, with 7 groups of plants for each row. That allowed us 2 ft of planting and 2 ft of free space between varieties to have a visual distinction. We took the tape measure out with us to put the markers 4 ft apart.
We found an another research article that showed that plants spacing should be 12 inches across and 12 inches apart. So, we measured 11 inches between the drip tube lines and stapled them in so they would be inside each row of plants.
With the fertilizer, drip tube and markers in place there was only one thing left to do before we could plant.
We had to mulch. Being in the middle of summer in the high 90’s, mulch is a great way to keep the soil protected, suppress weed growth, and keep moisture around the plants so they don’t dry out.
Once we had everything mulched it was finally time to plant!
I grabbed my 7 trays of holy basil from the greenhouse and took them to the field.
I referenced my master sheet and made sure to pull out the right plants for the right spots in the field.
I stretched a tape measure between the flags and made sure that I had proper 12 inch spacing between plants. Since the drip tube measured 11 inches across, we were able to plant directly outside of the drip tube on either side to achieve a 12 inch spacing width between plants.
I am in the zone, and covered up with long sleeves and a hat to protect me from the harsh summer sun!
It took us several hours, but finally all of my little holy basil babies were tucked into the ground safe and sound.
To finish off the day, I added an easily available form of nitrogen to give the freshly planted holy basil plants a boost. Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for all plants and is what causes lush green growth. I used a natural form called Nitrate of Soda.
I measured ot 3 oz in a 5 gallon bucket.
Then I measured out 6 oz and marked it on my cup to know how much I needed to add. I went through and added 6 oz to each of my 252 holy basil plants in the plot.
Finally, the planting is complete. Now I just have to keep them alive so I can continue with my research. The next step is to read more literature to figure out when to harvest, how to harvest and process the herb, and then how to analyze everything in the lab. So, this is just the first step, but I feel good about progress and taking things one step at a time. I will update again when it is time for harvesting!