How To Grow Basil

Well, to tell you the truth, it is so easy that even a child can learn how to grow basil. Pity they don't like eating it!

Basil 4 weeks after planting seeds

Once grown, basil will last right into the winter months depending on what you do with it of course as I will mention shortly. I found that some types of basil needed more care and patience to grow than others. That just could be my own personal experience, but worth making a mention of.

How To Grow Basil From Seed

The most common cultivars you will find around in garden centres and supermarkets are the sweet, the lemon, and the purple basil and they are the type I am writing about in this article, and no you can't just go out and buy it. May I remind you that you're here because you gotta know how to grow basil yourself! Right?

Where was I? Yes, it was the purple that didn't seem to do well from seed when I planted last year. The other two presented no problems apart from fungus gnats attacking them.

Have a go and try both these following indoor methods. You can grow it in water in a hydroponic unit or the conventional way in compost indoors at any time of the year.

I planted seeds in a medium seeding compost on 22nd of July 2017 and by 24th of August they had sprouted and grown to about 10 cm. The purple basil seeds did not germinate at all. I did have better success with them in the hydroponic unit but they still took a long time to get going, almost twice the time. Normally when I grow anything in this unit plants will grow at an incredible rate about 2/3 of the time it takes to grow in compost.

It will help if you check the expiry date on the seed packet because seeds dry up and retailers will still try and sell them especially if you are a bit “green behind the ears”

I have just bought Cinnamon basil and planted it. See how to grow basil “Cinnamon” (Ocimum Basilicum). This is a nice variety that attracts the bees with its pretty purple and white flowers and tastes a little like...you guessed, cinnamon. Just as I used Jasmine flowers for Pot pourri, I want to use this basil's flowers for the same purpose.

How To Do It

  1. Sow seeds over the surface of a medium compost for seedlings then cover them over with a layer of compost about 1 cm deep.
  2.  Water generously and cover with a clear lid so that the growing medium stays moist.
  3. Keep adding water when needed but be careful not to soak the compost and wash the seeds out from it. Now you need to keep it like this until you see the seedlings popping through.
  4. Once they pop through uncover them and keep them in a light place. The more light the better so they do not get spindly like my first attempt.
  5. When the seedlings have grown their first true leaves (these are the second set that sprout), prick them out and plant them in separate pots and water well. Now all you have to do is make sure they are watered regularly and pinch out new sets of fresh tips to get the plant to bush out.
  6. To transfer them into an outdoor herb garden just be patient until the last of the cold weather is over and plant them in a sunny but shaded spot about 30 cm apart. Take into account that basil is an annual so if you plant out you can't have a winter supply.

How To Grow Basil
From A Leftover Plant

No I have not gone mad! What I mean is the remnants of a fresh basil plant that you bought from the market and consumed. This is cheating of course but I am willing to waver such behaviour from amateurs! ;-)

All you need to do is cut back any stems to their base, replant the root ball in new compost and water well. Within no time the plant will sprout new foliage and voilà! You have earned an award certificate for saving on the grocery bill.

So what is your favourite basil dish? A nice Italian recipe dripping in tomato sauce along with a balsamic vinegar, garlic, and olive oil dressing tossed in a bed of rucola lettuce? Or a tasty pesto? Whatever it is start inviting the dinner guests now as in no time your basil will be ready for harvesting.

Grow A Herb - Kid`s Activity
Basil

Here are simplied instructions for our young participants taking part in the Grow A Herb Activity.

  1. Open your compost and fill the plant pot nearly to the top.
  2. Place your seed separately on top
  3. Cover with 1cm of compost.
  4. Water gently but do not soak and make sure the pot doesn`t dry out.
  5. Cover with cling film and prick a few holes in the surface.
  6. Place your pot in a warm spot on a windowsill indoors.
  7. When the seedlings pop through remove the cling film.
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