Herbs 101 : Basil
There is nothing like going into the garden and picking some herbs to freshen your home, or your food! Every Tuesday I am going to share some of my favorite herbs – why I love them, how to grow them and any special tidbits I’ve picked up along the way.
And this week I am going to start off with BASIL!
I like to start mine from seed, and I’ll sow about 10 plants every 2-3 weeks. This guarantees that the farm (and any friends and family who come begging) will have fresh basil all summer long!
I use a basic seed starting mix, and either prop trays or my soil blocker (which is am-a-zing!). The soil blocks hold together well once the seedling is rooted, and it makes for easy transplanting into the garden or pots for the kitchen windowsill. I give my seeds full sun and they usually will germinate within 5 days. I’m a bit careful about watering, as basil seedlings are prone to dampening off.
My biggest piece of advice for growing basil is Pinch-Pinch-Pinch it back!
By pinching back the plant delays flowering, and once flowering occurs its leaf production will slow. And since I grow basil for its flavorful leaves, I just keep pinching it back until it is a nice bushy plant.
I use my basil in everything from pasta and sauces to bruchetta, soups and salads. And if I have enough leftover (which unfortunately never happens) I’ll dry it for the winter.
For more on growing basil and the organic kitchen garden, check out my new book, The Backyard Gardener!