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:
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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:
- Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases