Planting, Growing and Harvesting Basil
Basil is a fragrant herb perfect for warmer weather and goes well with a variety of dishes, including your favorite homemade pesto!
After the risk of frost has passed and the soil has warmed, planting seeds or seedlings can yield a bountiful harvest within a few weeks. Keep picking leaves to keep your plants strong. The most common type of basil is sweet basil.
Other types include purple basil (less sweet than regular basil), lemon basil (lemon flavored) and Thai basil (licorice flavored).
Basil is easy to grow, but only grows outdoors in the summer. It grows only after the soil has been sufficiently warmed up. So plan accordingly.
Grow plants if you plan to make pesto. For other uses, one or two basil plants are sufficient.
To expedite the basil planting season, plant the seeds indoors six weeks before the last spring frost. (Please refer to your local frost date.) For outdoor planting, wait until the soil has warmed to at least 50°F (10°C) - preferably about 70°F (21°C).
Nighttime temperatures must not drop below 10°C (50°F). Spend some time with basil. Without heat, plants do not grow well.
Choosing and Preparing a Sowing Site
Basil grows best in areas that get plenty of sunlight for 6 to 8 hours a day. It can grow well even in partial sunlight. The soil should be moist but well drained.
Basil works well in containers or garden beds because it provides better drainage. If you plan to cook with this plant, plant it in clean soil, use no pesticides, and grow it away from roads and busy streets to prevent exhaust fumes from sinking into the plant.
How to plant basil
Plant seeds/saplings about 1/4" deep and 10 to 12" apart. They should grow to about 12-24 inches in height. For larger varieties, plant further away (about 16-24 inches).
Tomatoes are great neighbors for basil in the garden and on your plate!
Make sure the soil is moist. Basil loves moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around your plants (the mulch will help retain moisture and inhibit weed growth). In summer, water the plants a lot during the dry period. Trim the second set after the first 6 leaves have emerged from the seedlings. This will cause the plant to start pruning, yielding more leaves.
After every 6 to 8 leaves appear on the branch, repeat pruning until the first set of leaves. After about 6 weeks, pinch the central shoots to prevent premature flowering.
When the flowers bloom, just cut them. If the weather is cold or sudden frost is unavoidable, the basil should be harvested in advance, as the cold will kill the plant.
Various bacterial and fungal diseases of leaves, stems and roots disease.
Cinnamon basil adds cinnamon flavor to dishes. It gives a beautiful color) Thai basil that gives the dish a sweet licorice flavor.
Harvest Basil Begin harvesting basil leaves as soon as your plants reach 6 to 8 inches tall. When the temperature drops to 27°C (80°F), the basil starts to bloom.
Harvest in the early morning when the leaves are most succulent. Leaves should be harvested regularly to promote growth throughout the summer.
Even if you don't need the leaves, collect them to keep the plant growing. Save it for future reference! When harvested regularly, 12 basil plants can produce 4-6 cups of leaves per week.