Growing your own basil, and watching the plants develop and grow is amazing. Basil is not only beautiful to look at as a decorative element at home, but it also tastes and smells fantastic. The best thing about basil is that it is a really simple herb to cultivate!
There are different kinds of basil, and they come in several different colors and flavors. To mention a few, there are red and green basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, and Thai basil. Experiment, and you will find your favorite kind.
Basil loves heat and is for this reason best planted in a sunny and warm place, perhaps on a window sill. Heat is important both when pre-cultivating the basil seeds, and when they have germinated into plants. Basil plants also need a lot of water to thrive. Remember to always keep the soil moist, although not soaked.
In the following 7-step guide, we have gathered our best tips on how to grow strong and healthy basil plants:
Start by filling ⅓ of a pot with planting soil. Fill the rest of the pot with sowing soil. By the time the seeds have germinated and grown into bigger plants, their roots will reach the planting soil at the bottom of the pot. The planting pot will provide them with the nutrients they need, and therefore, the plants do not need to be replanted.
Level out the top layer of the soil, water it, and make sure it is moist. Sprinkle the basil seeds into the pot. Add a thin layer of soil over the seeds and carefully water with a spray bottle. The seeds need light to grow, so be cautious not to add too much soil when adding the top layer.
Keep the pots in a warm and bright window. If cultivating during the winter, you need to provide the plants with extra light through grow lights, otherwise, the seeds will not germinate. Preferably place some plastic foil loosely on top of the pot until the seeds are germinating. Lift the foil and water with a spray bottle occasionally - remember to keep the soil moist but not drained.
To ensure your plants always stay warm and moist, you could buy a mini greenhouse. You can also create your own mini greenhouse by cutting the bottoms of some plastic bottles. Place the bottles in the pots, this will provide warm and damp environments for the basil. Remember to remove the corks from the bottles, to ventilate your “mini greenhouses”.
You can keep the basil in the pots you pre-cultivated them in. But if you want larger, robust plants, you need to replant them. Once the seeds have germinated; carefully pluck some of the sprouts out of the pot, and replant them into new pots. The more space between the sprouts, the stronger the plants will become. Preferably keep about 3-4 sprouts in every pot.
Water your basil regularly without draining the plants. Once the sprouts have grown to about 5 centimeters high, you can start adding liquid plant food every time you water. Keep in mind that basil needs more nutrients than other similar herbs.
If you have any sheltered areas such as a greenhouse, a conservatory, or a glass balcony; these are places where basil thrives, and it will make the leaves even more delicious. Do not worry if you do not have any of these areas. Keep the plants on a window sill, in a mini greenhouse, or in your homemade plastic bottle greenhouses.
If you want to have your basil plants outside; make sure the temperature is not below 15°. If it is warm during the days, but colder at night, keep your basil indoors at night. Accustom your plants to outdoor life, by allowing just a few hours at a time outdoors, and do not place them in direct sunlight. After a couple of days, you can move the basil into a more sunny spot. Remember to provide them with water and plant food. If it is rainy, windy, or cold outside, keep your plant indoors.
Harvest your basil by cutting the leaves at the top of the plant. In that way, the basil will more easily produce new stalks and leaves. Also, you will get a more thick, bushy plant that is beautiful to look at.
Make sure your basil does not bloom. If producing any small flowers, cut these away, otherwise, the plant will focus on producing and taking care of the flowers instead of the leaves. Also, the flowers tend to steal much of the flavor in the leaves.
Basil is very popular as seasoning. Cut some fresh basil leaves, add some garlic, pine nuts, parmesan, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you have your own homemade pesto. Basil is also yummy on top of a tomato mozzarella sandwich, or alongside with avocados or tomatoes!
Have you harvested too much basil? No problem at all - basil stays perfectly fine in the freezer. Chop the basil coarsely, fill some jars and then put them in the freezer. Another alternative is to fill an ice cube tray with small pieces of basil and pouring some oil into the cubes - in this way, the basil flavor will remain much better. At some point when you are making tomato sauce, for example, and you need some seasoning; add your basil cubes!