Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow.
Give Basil warm temperatures, full sun and good drainage and you should have no problem. One of the biggest problems people will have growing basil is trying to plant it outside too early in the spring. It thrives in the 80 to 90 degree weather from May to September and will come up with all kinds maylays if planted outside too early. It thrives in well drained soil with occasional application organic fertilizer or compost. Don’t overdo the fertilizer because like most herbs they produce stronger oils if under a little stress.
Different types of Basil
Basil is easy and inexpensive to grow from seed so when the weather is warm try growing several varieties to find out the ones you like best . We grow several types of basil with large sweet leaves. Genovese basil being the most common but other varieties like Cinnamon, Thai, Lemon, Holy and Purple are useful as well. Basil seed are easy to find on your local seed rack or you can order them online from a seed suppliers. Here are three seed companies we use and links to their home pages. Johnny’s Seed, High Mowing and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Also Check out Judy’s articles in the Teaching Farmers on using Holy Basil for a medicinal tea and Basil and sun dried tomatoes.
Plant your basil in the garden or in containers. Two or three plants of each variety are usually enough for a family of four unless you make pesto and you may need eight plants or more so that you can collect enough leaves at one time. Amend the soil with compost and a little lime if your garden has not been limed in a few years. Basil likes a PH between 6 and 7. Plant it no deeper than it is growing in the pot when you transplant it. If you are growing from seed you can still plant through the early summer as it is quick to grow then. Check with Country Gardens Farm for a good selection of basil transplants in the spring. When starting seeds indoors it takes 6 to 8 weeks to produce a 4” pot ready for the garden but you have to keep them warm 70 degrees or more to avoid problems.When you are planting in warm weather (80 degrees F in day and 60 degrees F at night) you can seed basil directly into your pots or in the ground. When you are planting into a container you can sow several seed per container a 1/2 inch apart and they will do find. If you sow them too thickly just snip out a few seedlings with your scissors to the correct spacing. Cover them lightly with soil or vermiculite and keep the soil damp while germinating .
Clay pots are ideal for growing Basil but plastic will work as well. We have several of our herbs growing in 12 inch square by 12 inch tall clay chimney flues.
There are very few insect problems on basil. Sometimes you may find aphids on the under sides of the leaves. This insect can be controlled with insecticidal soap but this is a rare occurrence in the outdoors.
Flowers will appear soon so you need to constantly be trimming your plant even if you are not using the leaves so as to keep it in a vegetative growth and not let it go to seed too early. It will grow back quickly after a trim but it is better to trim often and not too much at one time.
Research studies on basil have shown unique health-protecting effects in two basic areas: basil’s flavonoids and volatile oils.
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