Have you tried to grow basil? It’s really easy to produce a bounteous crop! I remember in a few neighborhoods where I have lived my cute neighbors would come over and clip a few stems with leaves from the basil in my garden to make some yummy appetizers, casseroles, and salads, and to dehydrate some for later.
Types of Basil Plants
Other than the common sweet basil, I would suggest planting other types of basil for a variety of delicious flavorings. Here are a few different types of plants you can grow:
- Cinnamon basil: Adds a hint of cinnamon to a dish
- Purple Basil: Great for adding colorful hues
- Thai Basil: Tastes like licorice
How To Grow Basil Plants
You don’t have to worry about growing basil because it literally grows like a weed. All these plants need is a little love and care to give you a harvest you can keep all year long.
Planting Basil Seeds
Please buy non-GMO basil seeds or plants. You basically dig a hole, plant the seeds, or plants with Miracle Grow Root Starter and pack the beautiful soil around the plants. Plant the seeds 1/4 to 1/2-inch deep and 12 inches apart.
The seeds will germinate in 5-10 days and will need the weather to be 65-85 degrees to germinate. You will see the sprouts thrive in warmer weather.
When to Plant
Basil plants like warmer weather. If you want to get a jump start, you can start planting seeds indoors 6-weeks before the last spring frost (See local frost dates).
If you want to plant your seeds outside (or transfer your plants from inside to outside), you will want to wait until the soil has warmed to at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit are best for growth. You do not want temperatures to drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit during the night.
Without heat, the plant will not be able to grow.
Type of Soil Needed
In order to grow some basil, which is really easy, you need some good soil that drains. Soil should be moist but well-drained. If you grow basil in containers or raised beds, this allows for better drainage.
How Much Water
Keep the plants watered for a few days so they don’t dry out. You want to make sure the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, you will want to use mulch. Mulch helps hold the moisture in and keep the weeds out. During dry times, water your plants freely.
How Much Sunlight
Basil needs a lot of warmth and sunlight. It grows best when it gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun, daily. It can, however, perform well in partial sun, too. So, don’t worry too much if you think you don’t get enough sunlight.
You will want to fertilize once a month. Basil plants tend to do better with a small dose of fertilizer every 4-6 weeks. Use a water-soluble fertilizer or granular product.
If you choose a water-soluble type of fertilizer, you will want to apply it when you would normally water your plant according to the manufacturers’ directions.
If you choose a granular fertilizer, you will want to choose one that is balanced with equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate. So, 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 formulas work best. Most granular fertilizer is applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. If you are growing a small amount of basil, just scatter a small handful of granules on top of the soil around the plant.
Watch for bugs, pick them off, and place them in bags so the bad insects will die. Other things you may have to worry about when growing basil include:
- Powdery Mildew
- Bacterial and fungal diseases of the leaf, stem, and root.
Snip the leaves and stems as they grow. Once the plants reach 6 inches tall, start cutting back the tops so they will branch out. Cut the plants back when they get out of control.
Tips to Grow Basil
- Plant in soil that drains
- Purchase non-Gmo seeds or plants
- Use a root starter like Miracle Grow Root Starter
- In warm weather, keep them watered as needed
- Cut it back when it starts to flower
What Do The Flowers Mean?
Once you see these flowers you need to pinch or cut them off. They are edible, but they may taste bitter. When you pinch them off you are actually helping the plants become stronger and will continue to grow.
How To Grow Basil Plants In Pots
It’s really easy to grow basil in pots with a few tricks I want to share. Start with good potting soil and make sure the pot will drain properly. Basil does not like to be wet, just moist, but not soggy.
Make sure you do not overplant the seeds in the pot. Less is best when planting seeds in a pot.
How to Harvest Basil
Once you have successfully grown your basil, it’s time to start harvesting it. Follow the steps below to harvest your basil:
- Pick all the leaves of the basil as soon as the plants are 6 to 8 inches tall. This will happen when temperatures hit 80 degrees.
- You will want to harvest early in the morning when leaves are at their juiciest.
- Be sure to pick your leaves regularly to keep the plants going. Twelve basil plants can produce 4 to 6 cups of leaves per week.
How To Freeze Fresh Basil Leaves
It’s really nice to have basil all year. Use a food processor to coarsely chop the basil leaves and drizzle with olive oil. The ratio is about one tablespoon per cup of basil. If you cover all the leaves they will not go black in the freezer.
Fill the ice cube trays and drizzle with a little more olive oil if needed. Please leave room for expansion. After frozen, remove them from the trays and place in freezer bags.
Can You Freeze Pesto?
Here’s my daughter’s Pesto Recipe. Yes, you can freeze this in 1/2 pint containers, or whatever size you have on hand (be sure and leave room for the pesto to expand).
You can scoop it over pasta, oh my gosh, is your mouth watering yet? It makes a great sandwich spread too! These are the ones I use: Ice Cube Trays
Basil Pesto Recipe
- 2-3 Cups washed fresh basil-remove tough stems
- 6-8 Cloves fresh garlic
- 3/4 Cups olive oil
- 1-1/2 Cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts(shells removed)
Use a blender to process the olive oil, garlic, and basil until smooth. Add the parmesan cheese and pine nuts and use the pulse button until mixed. This is great on cooked pasta and pizza. Delicious!
Please let me know if you have tried to grow basil plants and how you use them, I love new ideas. Have you tried fresh basil leaves with sliced Mozzarella cheese, garden tomatoes, and olive oil?
Thanks for trying to grow a garden. We really need to share our love of gardening to keep the skill of growing our own food in an effort to be self-reliant. May God bless this world, Linda
This is where I buy my garden seeds: SeedsNow