How to Grow and Harvest Basil
Basil is often referred to as the king of herbs, and it is one of the most popular herbs for the home and garden. When you think of basil, you probably think of fresh, tangy pesto or homemade Italian spaghetti, topped with tomatoes and garnished with aromatic basil. There are so many ways to incorporate this herb into your cuisine, and harvesting it from your garden or windowsill is the best way to experience the full depth of its flavour and freshness! Here’s just a few things you should know if you are planning to grow basil!
Types of Basil
There are many varieties to choose from and almost as many flavours! Sweet basil has a classic spicy clove flavour that is essential to so many dishes, including pesto. Thai basil is just as delicious but with a slightly different taste. It is commonly used to add a burst of licorice to curries and stir-fries. And lemon or lime basil has a fresh citrus fragrance and a mild lemon flavour, which is amazing in teas, marinades, and salad dressings.
When choosing a variety, consider how you will be using it. Are you more likely to make classic dishes such as pasta or pesto? If so, a classic Genovese type will be perfect. Or do you enjoy experimenting with different types of cuisine? In this case, you may want to consider a Thai basil.
Our product section will also help you in determining the best flavour for your use!
Caring for Your Plant
When you purchase a basil plant from Sweet Valley Herbs, it will most likely be ready to cut and use immediately. It can be planted in your herb garden, patio pot, or placed on a warm, sunny windowsill. If you are keeping your plant inside, make sure to transplant it into a larger pot so it can continue to grow. Keep it moist, but don’t over water it.
If you are planting it outside, make sure the temperatures are warm enough!
When to Plant Basil Outside
Basil is a very cold sensitive herb and should be planted after the last chance of frost. Even a slight frost will kill your plants and if the weather is too cold and wet, it will not do well. The first signs of an unhappy plant are brown or blackened leaves and stems, and drooping foliage. A sheltered, sunny location is the best place to grow basil, and make sure it is planted in well drained soil.
Harvesting Your Basil
Make sure that your plant is well established before pinching it. You don’t want to stunt its growth by cutting it back too heavily. However, when done right, the more you harvest, the more it will continue to grow!
Wait to pinch your basil until it has formed two new laterals above the main side leaves. It’s best to wait until the new laterals have actually formed into a small leaves. Pinch off the top of the plant above those leaves. Make sure to leave several nodes below where you cut, to ensure the plant can continue to grow back.
You will probably be tempted to harvest all of the tops of your basil, but we suggest only picking a couple of the larger ones. And make sure to leave the side leaves until your plant is well established.
One plant will produce a fair amount of basil, but you will need to be patient while it gets established. If you use a lot of basil, however, you may want to buy several plants. This will also give you the option of trying different flavours.
We hope these tips help you to grow basil and harvest it all summer! Happy Gardening!