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Growing & Caring for Basil

Basil is a medium green, aromatic leaf with a bushy appearance. It is highly fragrant and is commonly used in Italian cuisine. Though it is easy to grow, Basil is a summer only plant so prepare to preserve it for later use.

How to Grow Basil:

Indoors

  • Start basil seedlings indoors 6-8 weeks before last spring frost. Soil temperature should be between 65-70 degrees F.
  • Plant 1/2 inch deep in small peat pots.
  • Basil plants can be grown in containers for their full life cycle or kept indoors. Or you can transplant outdoors once there are at least two sets of true leaves.

Outdoors

  • Basil can be planted directly into garden once all danger of frost has passed and soil has reached a temperature of 70 degrees F.
  • Space basil 10 to 12 inches apart in light, well-drained soil that gets full sun.
  • Space rows about 24 inches apart since plants can grow to 12-15 inches wide.

Harvest

  • Harvest as you need basil from the top of the plant.
  • To get the most out of your basil be sure to properly prune it. When seedlings get 6 leaves prune to above second set. Then, once each branch gets 6-8 leaves prune back to first leaf set on that branch.
  • Freeze or dry leaves to store for a longer period. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight plastic bags. To dry them, cut entire plant to soil level and hang the plant in a warm place until fully dried, then store the leaves in a resealable bag or container for up to a year.

Growing Tips

  • Water consistently and keep the soil moist.
  • You can also use basil in the garden as a companion plant to repel aphids, mites, and tomato hornworms.

Pests to Watch For:

  • Aphids
  • Slugs
  • Beetles
  • Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases

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