The easiest and tastiest herb to grow in a garden must be basil. Basil is a leafy, fragrant annual. The most common type of basil is sweet basil. Other types of basil include purple basil (less sweet than common basil), lemon basil (lemon flavor), and thai basil (licorice flavor). Basil is easy to grow and works well in Italian dishes, but it only grows in the summer. It is a “power producer”, which means you’ll get a lot of leaves from one plant. Basil plants are great companion plants for tomatoes (and will ward off unwanted pests), but are also great on their own.
How to Plant & Grow Basil
Planting Basil Seeds
- You can easily start the seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last spring frost, in a sunny window. The soil should be moist and well-drained.
- Make sure to plant basil seeds in an area where they will receive 6-8 hours of sunshine daily.
- Basil likes heat. The soil should be nice and warm (make sure the threat of a freeze has passed). Soil should be mixed with compost and organic fertilizer (you will only need to fertilize once or twice a season).
- Plan the seeds in a row and cover with approximately 1/4″ of soil.
- Once the plants grow to a few inches in height, thin them out so they are 6 to 12 inches apart.
- During the hot days of summer, make sure to water the basil plants frequently. Use mulch around the plants to help keep the soil moist.
How to Grow Lots of Basil:
How to Care for Basil
Prune and care for your basil once a week. This will cause the plant to become bushy rather than grow up and become weedy.
- Every time a branch has 6-8 leaves, prune to above the second set of leaves.
- Pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth. The best time to harvest is right when the plant starts to bud (before the leaves bloom).
- Cut off flowers.
- Thin / prune the plants as they grow up (always cut above other leaves – ex: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UE84U-FSoic)
- If pruned regularly, 12 basil plants will produce 4-6 cups of leaves per week.
How to Store Basil
- The best method of storing basil is freezing (this preserves the most flavor). Place whole sprigs of basil in airtight plastic bags.
- Another storage method is drying (some of the flavor will be lost). Here is a video on how to use a microwave to dry basil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_UW6ERdvUs