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One my favorite hardy leafy herbs, basil is one of the most ubiquitous herbs to have around the kitchen. Having some fresh basil around makes for a perfect final touch to pasta, salad, and many other dishes. It’s also super easy to make a perfect pesto sauce, delicious with chicken and pasta alike.
Grow basil in a small to medium sized pot, sprinkling seeds thinly (about 10-15 per pot) and covering with a fine layer of soil. I personally use this Pro Mix Organic Seed Starter Mix when starting my seeds. It’s top quality stuff that the pros use, so you really can’t go wrong with it!
You want to avoid using regular garden soil when starting seeds because it contains all sorts of large matter, bacteria, and bugs which can hinder your new seedlings from sprouting or growing properly. A good seed starting mix has a fine texture and is sterile — a perfect combination for baby plants to thrive in.
Sow the seeds in spring by starting off the seedlings on a warm kitchen ledge indoors or a warm, sheltered, and sunny spot outdoors. Make sure temperatures have reached 15°C before planting outdoors, as basil is a warm weather herb. Seeds should sprout in 5-10 days.
You can get a head start growing basil indoors if you supplement it with a grow light.
I use this Sunblaster Grow Light Garden to start my seeds indoors in early spring. It’s nice and compact, and will provide full-spectrum light to your little seedlings so they grow up strong and healthy.
I also use it to grow lots of fresh herbs and greens indoors during the long winter months when it’s too cold to grow anything outside. It is definitely one of my favorite purchases!
If you have limited indoor space I recommend the Sunblaster Micro Grow Light Garden. It’s the small version of the one I use and linked to above and will do the job just as well.
After about five weeks your seedlings should be ready to be transferred into individual pots.
To eliminate the guesswork in selecting the right size containers for your plants, we’ve put together a list of commonly grown herbs, veggies, fruit and flowers along with the minimum pot sizes required by each.
Starting a container garden? Grab my free guide on choosing the best sized pots for each veggie, fruit, and herb in your container garden – Veggie Garden Potting Guide
Basil tends to dry out, and thrives in a humid environment; so make sure to keep it well watered. It is best to water in the morning, and never during the sunniest part of the day, as water droplets on the leaves can magnify the sun’s rays and lead to damage.
Watering from the base is best, as it encourages the roots to grow down deep into the soil to keep the plant moist.
Where Can I Grow It?
Your basil can be left indoors if you have a spot with at least 6 hours of sun, or all summer planted outside. If temperatures drop below 5°c, Basil should be brought inside.
Basil Growing Tips
For a bushier plant, pinch out the growing tips regularly once the plant is at least 15 cm tall, just above where a set of leaves meets the stem. This encourages more tender growth and pulls out the best flavor.
Basil comes in many varieties so you can experiment and see which ones you like best. Sweet basil is the most common, and Genovese makes for a great pesto.
Grow basil together with tomatoes, peppers, oregano, petunias, or grapes for beneficial effects. It is said that when planted along with basil, the tomatoes produced by the tomato plant have an improved flavor.