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Basil has to be my favorite herb and has a place in my garden every year. Learning how to grow basil is very easy as long as you meet the right watering and pruning needs. There are a wide variety tastes and colors to chose from that can bring a new twist to your favorite dishes.
How To Grow Basil
When To Plant Basil Outside
Basil is an easy herb to grow outdoors. Basil is a annual that can’t take frost so make sure to wait until the weather has warmed up and all frost danger is past before planting it outside in your garden.
You can start basil seeds indoors from mid-April to mid-May and seedlings can be transplanted into your garden in June.
If you prefer to direct seed basil in your garden wait until late May to early June after the soil has warmed up. The optimal soil temperature for basil seeds to sprout is 21C (70F). When the soil is warm basil seeds should germinate in 5 to 10 days.
When you plant basil seedlings into your garden dig a small hole the same depth as the plant was growing in it’s pot.
Gently remove the plant from the pot and tease the roots on the bottom apart. This will encourage the roots to spread out in the soil faster. Place the plant into the hole and cover with soil and compost than water well.
Propagating Basil From Cuttings
Basil is also easily grown from cuttings and this can get your plants growing faster then if starting from seed.
Simply cut a 4 inch stem of basil that has not flowered and place it into water. Roots should form on the cutting within a week. Once it has developed a good root system you can transplant the cutting into a container or into the garden.
Bails likes moist but well drained soil. Water basil often in hot weather. This is especially important if your growing basil in containers. If the temperatures are soaring water your containers everyday. In average weather conditions watering a few times a week is enough.
You don’t want to over water basil either as you can cause stress and root rot to your plants. A good guideline is to let the top inch of soil to dry out in between waterings.
If you need some help knowing when your plants need to be watered try this handy moisture gage.
How To Harvest Basil
Basil will continue to grow all summer if you prevent it from flowering. Keep an eye out for buds and flowers and pinch them off.
If you’re growing basil for preserving or making large batches of pesto let your plants get as large as possible and harvest up to half the plant just before it starts to flower.
Basil leaves have the best flavor just before the plant begins to flower.
If you prefer to grow basil for continual harvest all throughout the growing season you want to prune it often. Once the basil has grown to about 6 inches tall simply cut off the soft branches just above a point on the stem where 2 leaves grow out from.
This will encourage the herb to continue growing and you will end up harvesting more basil then if you leave it to grow for only one cut, but your harvest is more spread out over the growing season.
Basil Companion Planting
Practicing companion planting helps to reduce pests in your garden and hey, it makes your garden look beautiful to!
Basil is excellent planted with tomatoes, peppers, asparagus and oregano.
Basil also helps to repel mosquitoes, flies and thrips.
To learn more about plants that help to repel mosquitoes click here.
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Kim Mills is a homeschooling mom of 6 and lives on an urban homestead in Ontario, Canada. Blogging at Homestead Acres she enjoys sharing tips to help you save money, grow and preserve your own food.