Laboratory One Research Blog

Indoor Agriculture Part 4 - Growing Basil

August 24, 2018

Basil Growth - 8

In this final installment of our series on indoor agriculture we grow Basil! I’ve been told that it’s very easy to grow. This makes it a perfect trial for our growing machine. It took about 35 days to go from seed to harvest. Comparatively, growing outdoors in soil takes up to 75 days. Additionally, our growing machine allows for year round harvests. By this measure, I’d say this experiment has been pretty successful. Lets examine the process.


I started the seeds with the towel in a bag. It took about 6 days until the seeds were ready to be transplanted into a rockwool cube. I waited until the seeds were much more germinated than my first attempt. This allowed the seeds to be much more successful.

Germinated Basil Seeds

Transplanting to rockwool

Ideally, only 1 basil plant should be used in this machine. Because I failed on my first try, I transplanted far more seeds than required. Additionally, I made sure I set the nutrient mix very precisely. I tried to keep the EC at 1.15-1.70 mS/cm, and the pH at 5.2-6.5.

Sprouted Basil Seeds - 1

Sprouted Basil Seeds - 2

Sprouted Basil Seeds - 3

There was a heatwave in Edmonton so I had a hard time keeping the nutrient mix temperature below 32 C. The high temp and my laziness in adjusting the EC and pH definitely slowed growth. There was a sharp increase in growth after the heatwave.


The plants really got going around day 12. Even more so after I reduced the number of plants growing. Additionally, tt seems that as I got better at regularly maintain the nutrient mix, the better the growth. Makes sense.

Basil Growth - 2

Basil Growth - 3

Basil Growth - 4

Basil Growth - 5

Basil Growth - 6

Basil Growth - 7

Basil Growth - 8

By day 35, the plant hit the lights and started frying. It was time for a harvest.

Basil Harvest - 1

Basil Harvest - 2

Overall, the machine works fine. There are many improvements to be made but this proof-of-concept worked great. I’m going to iterate and shoot for an even better product!

Peter Chau

Written by Peter Chau, a Canadian Software Engineer building AIs, APIs, UIs, and robots.