I'm going to show you how to grow what is, quite possibly, the world's most popular herb: Basil. Basil is a key ingredient in the cuisines of many Southeast Asian countries, and of course Italy. Its popularity is due to the range of flavors, sizes and colors available, and because it is so easy to grow in the ground or in containers. All you need to do is provide rich soil and plenty of sunshine and water!
- Watering can
- Basil plants
- Potting soil
- Basil seeds
- Liquid fish emulsion
- Spray bottle
Choose a site that gets full sun. Like most herbs, basil grows best in well-drained soil, amended with organic matter. So dig 1 to 2 inches of compost into the soil before planting.
Sow basil seeds directly into the ground when all danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature has reached 60 degrees F and nighttime temperatures stay above 60 degrees F. Scatter the seeds onto the soil, press them into the soil with the palm of your hand and then cover them with 1/4-inch of fine soil or compost.
Keep the soil evenly moist, especially while you are waiting for the basil seeds to germinate.
When the seedlings have two to three sets of leaves, thin them so they're 6 to 10 inches apart.
If you want more instant results you can buy basil plants from a nursery. Just be aware that there will be a smaller selection of varieties available when you purchase plants as opposed to seeds. When the plants are about 6 inches tall, pinch off the tips right above a set of leaves to encourage bushier growth.
Fertilize with liquid fish emulsion every two weeks for the first two months and then once a month until the end of the growing season.
Pick fresh, young basil leaves whenever you need them and remove flowers as soon as buds appear. The more often you harvest, the more the plant will grow! If you need a lot of leaves at once, you can pinch the plants back by half as long as you fertilize them immediately afterwards.
Storing basil in the refrigerator can cause the leaves to turn an unappetizing black color. Instead, keep basil fresh for several days by placing the stems in a jar filled with water and setting the jar on your kitchen counter out of direct sunlight.
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