Are you ready to learn how to grow basil? If so, you’re in the right place.
Mint is a perennial plant that grows well in the cool, moist soil of a garden. Mint is most often grown for its leaves, which are used to flavor many foods and drinks. It can also be used as an herb or ground into powder form to make herbal teas. Growing your own mint plants will give you access to fresh leaves all year round.
Basil is a plant that can be grown in many different ways. Some people grow basil in their garden while others prefer to grow basil indoors as an herb. Basil can also be grown outdoors if you live in the warmer climates and have plenty of space for your plants to grow and flourish.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to know about growing basilat home.
Varieties of Basil
When it comes to learning how to grow basil, one of the first decisions you’ll need to make is which varieties of basil are right for your garden.
The most common type of basil is sweet basil, which is the variety that most gardeners recognize for its versatility in Italian dishes like sauces and soups. It can also be used to make pesto.
However, you might also consider growing types of basil like purple basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil. Of these, Thai basil has a licorice-like flavor while purple basil is less sweet than common basil (also known as sweet basil). Lemon basil, as you might expect, has a citrusy flavor.
When planting basil, choose a location that receives full sunlight and is nice and warm. Although learning how to grow basil is not complicated, you do need to make sure your plants receive lots of heat since this is a heat-loving crop native to the Mediterranean.
Start seeds indoors about six weeks before the last expected frost. Wait until the soil is at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit or ideally, around 70 degrees, and until nighttime temperatures rarely dip below 50 degrees. Don’t rush things! You need a lot of heat to successfully grow basil.
About six to eight hours of full sun per day is necessary, although a bit less can be tolerated if your plants are being grown in a warmer climate. The soil should be moist and well-draining, as basil doesn’t like to get its feet too wet.
A container or raised bed is the perfect environment for basil. In fact, many people choose to grow basil on windowsill container gardens in their homes. This will allow you to keep your plants a bit warmer but you will need to water and fertilize your plants more often, as containers leach both nutrients and water more readily.
Plant your seeds about a quarter of an inch deep and 12 inches apart. Water regularly until seedlings emerge (it should take less than two weeks).
Caring for Basil Plants
Now that your plants are in the ground, it’s time to follow these tips for caring for basil plants.
Keep the soil moist, applying mulch around the plants to help lock in moisture. During exceptionally dry periods, aim to water your basil plants about once per day or every other day.
You can prune your basil plants after the seedlings produce their first six leaves. Remove all leaves to just above this second set - of course, you can save these leaves to use in your cooking! Pruning will encourage your plants to start branching out and give you more leaves that can be harvested.
Once your branches have about six to eight leaves, prune the branches back to the first set of leaves again.
If your basil plants start to flower - something that can halt your harvest in its tracks - pinch the center shoot. If flowers do happen to grow, just cut them off.
The good news about learning how to grow basil is that there are very few diseases and pests you’ll need to be on the lookout for. That’s due in part to basil’s heavy fragrance, which deters many kinds of insect pests. Weak plants may be more vulnerable to aphids and fungal problems like powdery mildew.
Harvesting and Storing Basil
You can harvest basil throughout the growing season. Start picking leaves as soon as your plants are around six to eight inches tall. Try to harvest first thing in the morning, when the plants have the highest content of essential oils - this is when they will taste the best! Pick leaves regularly and store them for later use.
If you expect cold weather or a sudden forest, harvest your basil ahead of time. This will prevent the cold temperatures from damaging your plants.
Storing basil is easy. The best method for storing basil is by freezing. This will help preserve the most flavor in your basil plants. You can freeze whole or chopped leaves or even freeze them in ice cube trays, filling each cube with oil so that you can just drop the frozen cube into your recipes later on.
You can also dry the basil, which is a good method for gardeners with limited freezer space. Although you will likely lose some of the flavor in the leaves, drying can be done quickly and easily. Just pinch the leaves at the stem and put them in a ventilated, shady area. They should dry in just three or four days.
Of course, you can also use a dehydrator to get your leaves dry and crispy.
Try Growing Basil Today!
Basil is an herb that is used in many dishes. It's also great for adding flavor to salads and drinks. Basil grows best during the hot summer months, but it can be grown indoors at any time of year with a little effort from you!
So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to start growing basil in your backyard garden? Follow these tips and you’ll have an endless supply for all of your favorite dishes.
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