You can grow basil from seed from early spring buy sowing the seeds directly into the soil. You can also germinate them early in seed trays in your hothouse. Basil is a mediterranean plant which enjoys heat, but you should never allow it to dry out and wilt.
Basil can also tolerate sandy soil and in fact doesn’t like to be heavily fed. As with all herbs, basil does not like “wet feet” so if you are planting it in a pot make sure you have good drainage through the bottom.
Long term care Harvesting Basil
As the plant grows you can nip out the two central leaves which will cause the plant to bush more which will bring you a higher yield. At the end of summer it will send out long flower stalks. I like to leave mine for the bees, and they can self seed for next season, but you can pinch this out too. Cut your basil as you need until the end of autumn, when you can harvest the whole plant and dry or freeze in ice blocks for winter use.
Perennial basil needs to be started each spring which means that at the end of the season you can remove the root structure once you have harvested your leaves. Annual basil needs to be cut back at the end of the growing season and it should start growing again after winter. Like I said, it’s pretty simple to learn how to grow basil!
When to plant: Sow seeds in spring, keep warm until summer.How many plants: 10 seedlings will produce plenty of leaves for the home kitchen.
How long to harvest: 2 months
Successive planting: Annually
Basil can be used in many dishes but goes beautifully with tomato based recipes. You can try your hand at making basil pesto or you can make a mozzarella, tomato and basil salad. Simply slice your tomatoes and cheese and alternate the cheese, tomatoes and basil leaves in a circle on a plate. Drizzle with olive oil and top with freshly ground blank pepper. Serve with crusty rolls.