Basil

Basil:

 

  • Why you should grow it:
    • Companion plant to tomatoes – improves flavour and repels insects
    • Many varieties, Sweet, Thai, Lemon….
    • Easy to keep inside or outdoors
    • Flowers are great for pollinators
    • Fairly pest and disease-free

 

 

  • How to start seeds
    • Moist, not wet, seed starting soil
    • Once seedlings sprout, they need about 6-8 hours of good sun
    • Mist on the top before seedlings appear, and water from the bottom for good seedling root growth
    • Re-pot once seedlings get about an inch tall to prevent overcrowding
    • Continue to re-pot until you can plant outside or until adequate pot for keeping indoors (about 4 – 6 inches in diameter)

 

 

  • Tips for growth
    • Water well – always moist and if in a pot, water from the bottom
    • Need about 6-8 hours of good light per day (indirect or direct)
    • Plant next to tomatoes
    • Add mulch around the base during the peak of summer to prevent drying out
    • Pinch back the top of the plant to promote a bushier growth

Photo: Humming Homebody

 

 

  • Harvesting
    • Pinch of the top leaves regularly for continuous growth
    • Take the whole leaf, don’t leave a stub as it can take resources away from growing new leaves
    • Can take stems, store in water in the fridge for about a week
    • Trim off flowers to continue the life of the basil
    • Store the leaves by drying them, if you blanche them first they will keep their green colour
    • Make pesto
    • Blend leaves and oil and freeze in cubes

 

 

  • Saving Seeds
    • The basil will eventually flower at the end of its life
    • Leave the flowers on the plant for as long as possible – the longer the seeds are dried on the plant, the more food is stored increasing the shelf life of the seed
    • Harvest after a few dry days to ensure flower is as dry as possible
    • Snip off flowers and shake into a paper bag
    • Seeds should shatter when smashed, so may need more drying in a sunny window
    • Label with variety and year and store in a paper or plastic bag in a dry, cool area

Photo: West Coast Seeds