Basil is an annual-growing herb and happens to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. There are many delicious varieties of basil – some are spicier, others have a lemony, cinnamon, or have a peppermint flavor. Basil grows easily in sunny, warm climates – and also quite well indoors next to a sunny window in the fall and in mild winters. The pointed leaves are used for cooking and the flower buds are edible too. Some basil gardeners use their surplus for naturally dying fabric or for children’s crafts (learn how here). If you’re looking for a new way to use basil this fall, check out our Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto below.
Tips On Growing Basil Outdoors Growing basil outdoors does best in warm spring and summer climates (for growing basil in the fall and winter, see Tips On Growing Indoors below). Sizes of basil varies – the “sweet basil” can grow up to 6”, but many gardeners like to grow it only up to 3″. Since basil loves heat, you should plant it when the day temperatures are higher. Basil also likes rich, moist soil. Plant the seeds about 10” from each other. Once the plants reach about 6” in height, start pinching off the top layer of leaves to encourage better leaf growth and to prevent the plant from getting “leggy.” Keep in mind that basil is sensitive to frost – as soon as autumn comes, you should bring it indoors before frost touches the leaves and turns them black.
Tips On Growing Basil Indoors This method is best in fall and winter climates, as basil can be kept warm and away from frost while indoors. You will need direct sunlight (a south facing window does best) and provide plenty of warmth by either using a heat mat or by keeping plants near a heater. If you cannot provide at least 6 hours of sunlight next to a window, you might want to consider supplementing with artificial light. Using fluorescent grow lights or specially designed high intensity lights can keep basil lush and delicious all year round. Remember to keep artificial lights at least 5 inches away from the top of your plants. High intensity lights need to be two to four feet away from basil plants to ensure vitality. We also like to keep a fan running 2-4 hours a day (we suggest from the time you get home from work to bedtime) to simulate a natural environment. We find that the air does not get too stagnant and the plant thrives even further.
Tips On Preserving Basil’s Flavor Try to prevent the blooming of the basil plant as long as possible. This is to ensure a full, bushy plant with loads of tasty leaves. To stop the blooming process on your basil plant, harvest the top layer of leaves when the plant reaches 6”. When the plant eventually goes to seed, you’ll notice the plants bright flavors get a little wah-wah. You can still cut them, as well as the flowers, and use them in cooking if you’d like. To preserve your plant when it’s tastiest, either preserve it in a container with olive oil and salt, or store it in an ice cube or herb log.
Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas
1 clove garlic
1 cup fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Method: Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Add a splash of water if you prefer a smoother texture. Top on pastas and spaghetti squash, drizzle over polenta, and use it as a dip for veggies, bread, and pizza.
***Friends, how is your basil doing this year? We’re curious, what tips would you give to someone who was growing basil for the first time?
Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!!
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