How To Grow Basil
If you have the correct type of soil along with the right amount of water, sunshine, and care, then your garden will flourish with little effort, no matter which type you choose. Before you know it, you will be cooking up fresh and healthy pesto and pasta dishes with your own herbs that you grew and harvested.
Choosing A Type
There is no right or wrong type of basil for you to choose. Certain varieties do develop better in some conditions. Fortunately, the plant is simple enough to care for and easily adapts to different soil types and water conditions. The best advice for choosing a variety is to first taste as many types as you can and then pick the best tasting one that you would also enjoy to cook with.
Selecting A Soil Type
Basil thrives when using a high quality, pH balanced, potting soil or rich organic soil with a perlite and peat mixture. You can also make your own potting soil by mixing regular potting soil with a cup of perlite and two cups of peat. The soil will remain moist and soft by using a high quality potting soil, which will ensure proper root growth. As always, the soil needs to be weed free before planting. Fertilizer can be added once a month or you can use potting soil with a time released fertilizer to encourage healthy growth.
Selecting A Growing Location
Basil can be grown in a pot or directly in the ground. When growing in a pot, ensure that there is adequate drainage at the bottom of the pot. Lining the bottom of the pot with coarse gravel or small rocks will ensure adequate drainage and allow the roots to expand freely. If growing outside directly in the ground, ensure the soil is weed free and moist before planting.
Growing From Seeds or Seedlings
The next step is to choose if you want to start your basil from seeds or from a seedling. A seedling is a young plant that has already started growing and can be purchased from a local nursery or home improvement store. Growing from seed is not difficult, but if you are a novice gardener, starting with a seedling might be the better choice. If you are growing from seeds, you can first start the seeds indoors in late winter, then transplant to your garden outside in the spring after the last frost.
Pick a location that will receive at least six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day and is not in danger of temperatures below 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Ideal conditions are warm and dry weather.
When watering the plant, do not water the leaves but only the base of the plant as the leaves are easy to damage and do not need water themselves. Water as needed, everyday or every other day, to ensure the soil is moist but not damp.
When the plant is large enough, you are now ready to harvest the leaves.