Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Easy from Seed - Basil

Basil, the classic pesto ingredient, is an annual herb that should be started at about the same time you start tomatoes, that is, when night temperatures are consistently above 50°F. There are so many
varieties of basil you can fill your garden with it alonenot a bad idea, actually. Lemon basil, lime basil, cinnamon basil, and anise basil have distinct flavors. Dwarf basils, such as boxwood basil or Spicy Globe' basil that have mounded habits and can function as a low hedge or a rounded pot-herb. Purple-leaf basils have, obviously, purple leaves, which makes them a good choice for mixing in a flower border.

When to start: Sow when danger of frost has passed.

Where to plant: Plant in full sun, in fertile soil.

Planting depth: Cover seeds with ½ inch of soil.

Care: Provide consistent moisture.

Container growing: Tall varieties require a large, 10-12-inch diameter minimum, pot. Dwarf types will do well in an 8-inch pot.

Harvesting: Clip leaves weekly throughout the season to keep plants from developing flowers.

Hint: You can rejuvenate tall basil plants by cutting them back by about one-third in mid-season.


Marilyn said...

We love basil in my house. My husband loves it so much he plants too much and we don't eat it all. Yes, I could make pesto for the freezer, but for some reason I never get around to it. Yummm!

Angela McRae said...

Now it seems like I had heard somewhere not to start basil from seed, but I love basil so I am going to take your word for it and try my own from seed this year! (Plus, seeds are pretty cheap.)

By the way, there is a new book out you might like called "Homegrown Tea," if you haven't heard about it yet. A review copy I requested has arrived, and I haven't had time to read it yet but I can tell it's going to be good. Covers everything from camellia sinensis to herbal teas.