Planting Guide - Basil Seeds
Growing Basil in Your Garden
Many herb-loving gardeners grow basil in vegetable beds and in pots around the kitchen door, where they’re easy to pinch for cooking and hard to forget to water. The extremely aromatic leaves of basil are offered in a delightful variety of flavors from the ever-popular Sweet Basil, to Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil, Thai Basil and Spicy Globe Basil to name a few. Dishes once bland are given a zesty punch and kick with basil, the King of Herbs.
When & How to Plant Basil Seeds
Basil is a tender annual that cannot survive through frost. Plant your basil seeds outdoors directly into your garden after all danger of frost has passed. Or, if you want a head start, plant basil seeds indoors as early as 6 weeks before the last frost and then plant out after you've hardened off your seedlings and the weather has warmed. Choose a location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day and preferably in an area sheltered against cold winds. Keep in mind that basil leaves can be used in your daily culinary endeavors, so keep your plantings in reach or at least in a garden close to your kitchen.
Growing Guide for Basil
Basil prefers a position in your garden in full sun and thrives best in rather poor, gravelly, and well-drained soil. When grown in rich garden beds, they make more luxuriant vegetative growth but lose much of their fragrance and flavor. Basil is easily damaged by cold weather and will be killed by frost. Basil can tolerate very warm weather. Begin working your soil right after the last frost. Till the area or rake to loosen the soil and amend with either organic compost or well-rotted manure to add good drainage to the soil.
Sow basil seed ¼” deep; thin successful plants to 8 inches apart or more depending on the variety. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
Keep your basil soil moist for quick growth, but do not overwater. It is best to mulch around the base of the plant to aide in moisture retention and to deter weeds.
Foliar feeding basil plants with a spray of compost tea or liquid seaweed extract twice during the growing season will give the plants the nutrients and protection it needs.
Basil makes a wonderful bedfellow with tomatoes and peppers to enhance their growth.
Possible Problems with Growing Basil
Pests aren’t much of an issue for basil, which is just one more plus! If snails or slugs attack basil then handpick them and destroy.
Keep your basil plants around the kitchen door where they’re easy to pinch for cooking and adding to salads. With herbs, especially basil, using them regularly is a form of maintenance – the more you pinch, the more they grow.
The most favorable time for cutting is early in the morning after the dew has dried and before the plants have been touched with hot midday sun. Cut just as the flowers are about to open, it is at this stage that the essential oils are the most abundant.
Preparing for Planting Basil Next Season
Since Basil will be killed by any touch of frost, gardeners can prolong its life-span by transplanting basil plants into containers and moving them into a warm, sunny location indoor. Basil will do best near a south-facing window. If you live in USDA Zone 9 or above you can keep your basil growing outdoors year-round.