How to Grow Basil Outdoors and in a Pot? There is nothing better than delicious homemade pesto, and if you’ve longed to improve your recipe, growing your own basil may be the perfect solution. This popular herb not only saves money on basil bought in the store but can also be grown indoors year-round.
There are a variety of varieties, although sweet basil is the most common. With its glossy leaves and white flower stems, it has a subtle anise taste and grows 1 to 2 feet tall. The varieties available all have unique differences, from their appearance (there are purple-leaved varieties like Dark Opal and Red Ruby) to their size and taste (some have overtones of cinnamon, clove, lemon, and lime).
If you want to add this herb to your own garden and use it to refine pesto, salads or tomato dishes, scroll down to get our helpful guide on growing your own basil.
Tips for growing basil
Start inside in individual pots, plant seeds outside when the frost is over and the ground is warm, or buy bedding plants. If you start plants indoors, heating cables are helpful as it is a tropical plant that is not too cold. Plant in full sun in well-drained soils enriched with compost, aged manure, or other organic materials.
Place large-leaved varieties such as lettuce leaf 1½ feet apart and small-leaved varieties such as Spicy Globe spaced 1 foot apart. Basil needs plenty of water. Mulch your basil plants to retain moisture after the soil warms up. Pinch the plants frequently to promote bushy growth, and pluck flower heads regularly so the plants put their energy into the foliage production.
Grow some basil plants in containers so you can bring them home before the autumn frost. Or do a second outdoor seeding in June to have small plants that can be brought indoors for the winter. As the frost approaches, you can also cut off some end shoots of the plants in the garden and root them in water for later planting.
Basil can be subject to severalThese include fusarium wilt, gray mold and black spot, as well as damping in seedlings. Avoid these problems by waiting for the soil to warm up and not overcrowding the plants. Japanese beetles can skeletonize plant leaves; Pick pests by hand.
The right way to harvest basil
Start using the leaves as soon as the plant is big enough to save something. Gather from the tips of the branches and cut off a few centimeters. Treat basil with care so as not to injure and blacken the leaves.
You can air dry basil in small, loose bunches, but itmost aromatic when it’s frozen. To freeze basil, puree washed leaves in a blender or food processor and add water as needed to get a thick but pourable puree. Pour the puree into ice cube trays and freeze it, take it out and store it in labeled freezer bags for use in sauces, soups and pesto as needed.
Pesto (a creamy mixture of pureed basil, garlic, grated cheese and olive oil) is kept in the fridge for a long time with a layer of olive oil.
How to cook with basil
This common herb improves the taste of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. It’s great in spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and ratatouille. It is also ideal for fish or meat dishes and can be combined well with lemon thyme, parsley, chives or garlic. Try it in pan dishes or in vegetable baking dishes.
Fresh basil leaves taste great in salads. Use the lemon and lime-scented varieties in fresh fruit salads and compotes. Basil is also a basic ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. Varieties like Siam Queen give these dishes the most authentic taste. Basil vinegar is good for salad dressings; The ones made with purple basil are both colorful and delicious.