It is very easy to grow basil . Fresh basil tastes loads better and different than dried basil. Basil is a popular, fragrant herb with a variety of culinary uses. It grows easily in outdoor gardens, and with a few minor alterations, you can grow basil indoors without much effort, as well. Sufficient amounts of sun and water are the key ingredients in getting your basil to thrive no matter where you plant it.

[ LEARN MORE ABOUT : BASIL ]

Planting Basil Cuttings or Seeds

Planting a cutting of basil will easily root when placed in water. Select a 4″ section of basil that has not yet flowered. It will propagate to form roots within a week when planted in soil. Now you can transplant the basil directly into your garden or to a container once the healthy root system is visible.Instead of planting basil from cuttings, you can sow its seeds as well. Drop one to two seeds in a container and cover them lightly with soil.Cover the container with clear plastic kitchen wrap, so that the seeds stay moist. Leave the container on a sunny window. Remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the container with water,twice a day.It is important to keep your basil seeds warm after you plant them. You can also use a heat mat or an overhead lamp to keep them warm.When the first green tendrils push up through the soil, it is time to remove the plastic wrap.You have to keep watering the sprouts daily, in order to prevent soil from drying out. When plants become a few inches tall and their leaves mature, it is time to transplant them to a larger container.

Planting Location to Grow Basil

Basil needs warm air and sun to grow well, so it is better to sow the seeds indoors instead of outdoors to prevent damage by frost and wind. But if you live in a hot climate, you can sow the seeds outside as well.You can select small or medium sized containers for this purpose, preferably clay pot.Fill the seed container with a mixture of equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat.Press the mixture slightly to eliminate air holes. Dampen the mixture with water so that it is ready to provide the right environment for basil seeds to germinate.Then you can sow the basil seeds in a container.

Planting Time

If you plan to plant basil from a seed, plant them about six weeks before the last frost. Basil is super sensitive to the cold so if you are transplanting seedlings from indoors or have plants in the ground, try to do it in the early spring temperatures and cover the container if necessary. If you are planting a cutting or transplanting a seedling or smaller plant you need to make sure the ground temperature is at least 70°F.

Grow Basil in Pots

You can also plant your  basil in a pot which can be made of clay, plastic, stone, or concrete.The pot should have drainage holes in the bottom regardless of the material being used. Soak the pot in a solution made from water and a mild cleanser. Be careful that the soil remains loose. Do not pack it into the container tightly,as tightly packed soil can make it difficult for your basil seed to germinate .

Spacing to Grow Basil

You can sow a the seeds an inch or two (2.5 to 5 centimeters) apart if you are using a round container.You can also scatter seeds throughout the container, if you are using a long window box. If you are using this method, you must trim your basil out once seedlings sprout and reach an inch or two (2.5 to 5 centimeters) in height. Be careful to sow seeds 1/4 inches deep and bury the cuttings 1/2 inches deep.When the seeds sprout then you can transplant them to ground or a bigger container. The plants should be 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 centimeters) apart to ensure adequate room for growth.You can use your fingers, a wooden Popsicle stick or tongue depressor to carefully dig the soil away from the base.

How to Take Care of Basil?

As you already know, Basil does not tolerate frost, so don’t plant it too early. It is best to replant basil in a area where it will get a good deal of sunshine and have well-drained soil.

Watering

This herb grows best in well-drained soil, and should not be subjected to standing water. You have to water a mature basil plant once a day, in the morning.This is done so that the water has time to soak in and evaporate rather than sitting on the plants overnight.

Trimming to grow Basil

You can pinch two pairs of leaves off when flowers appear. The blooming of flowers creates a hormonal change which will dramatically reduce the flavor of your leaves, as well as reduce the amount of foliage which grows on the plant. This particular procedure called is called “bolting” and is more likely to happen when there’s lot of sunshine. You’ll notice that if you leave the flowers on your plant, your basil will become lanky and the leaves won’t be  strong in taste.

Removing weeds

Weeds are unwanted plants which start to compete with young basil plants for soil’s nutrients and slows down the development of young plants. You can control the weeds around seedlings either through weeding or mulching (limestone gravel, builder’s sand, leaf mold or straw).They also block the much needed sunlight and soak up the extra  water, so you have to be careful and target the weeds when young as at that time they are easier to remove.You should grasp the weed firmly with steady pressure and try to pull up as much of the roots as possible.A spade or rooting tool can be helpful.

Watch out for Pests and Molds

Basil plants attract Japanese beetles.The best way to control these pests is to pick them off the plants by hand. If your plant is shows signs of mold growth then there is a possibility that your basil may not be getting adequate sunlight or they may be too close together. In this case you can weed out the smaller plants to give your larger ones more space.

How to Harvest your Basil ?

Basil is a “pick-as-you-go”  kind of herb so you can harvest only what you need or if you have an abundance on hand, you can clip a mass harvest.

Gathering

You can pinch off the top two pairs of leaves as the plant is mature, once its stalk reaches a reasonable height.If you look closely, at the base of every leaf,there are two tiny little leaves that will grow outwards if the stem growing between them is cut off. Pinching encourages the plant’s energy to be directed into its stronger stems and leaves. This helps the plants grow bushy.

Store Basil in a Refrigerator

You can have store large amounts of basil Wash the plucked leaves, dry them well, and wrap them in paper towels. Place them in a food storage container with an airtight lid or plastic seal pouches.Then place this container or pouch in your refrigerator.

Freezing

You can also try to freeze basil leaves. Puree it first before freezing it.Then you can store you basil in a freezer for months. Place basil leaves in a blender with little amounts of water, lemon juice, and/or olive oil. Puree it until smooth, then put it in a food storage bag and freeze it.

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