Basil Growing - Herbs Recipes
Part of Series Foodies, Recipes Blog Guide and Series (this doc)
- Great addon to Foods
- Basil (African Blue, East Indian) - Perennial
- Varieties & Environments
- Basil Varieties
- Start from Seed Indoors
- Transplant outdoors
- Plant in Rich Hot Sun, Give it Rich Soil and Water well
- Time to Plant/Days to Harvest:
- Frost Protection
- Pinching to spread out and Prevent Flowering
Great addon to Foods
Fresh basil leaves are a wonderfully sweet, and aromatic herb especially straight from the mother plant! It is one of the most popular of all the culinary herbs.
Basil (African Blue, East Indian) - Perennial
Basil is a member of the mint family. It is closely identified with Italian cooking, although it is originally from India. The extremely aromatic leaves also have a delightful variety of flavors from the slightly lemony-mint of sweet basil to cinnamon, and licorice. Leaf colors span from rich green to deep purple, with smooth or crinkled leaves. The flowers are insignificant, but very popular with bees.
They all grow easily in warm, sunny weather as tender annuals. The leaves are commonly used in cooking, but the flower buds are also edible.
Varieties & Environments
Basil plants can be grown as perennials in USDA hardiness zones 10 and above, but for most of us, it is a tender annual that only lasts until the first frost. (Cu is 9a)
Ocimum basilicum Common: Basil
"Sweet Basil" can reach 6 ft. tall, but grows to about 3' for most gardeners.
'Spicy Globe' Some of the shorter, purple varieties, like , actually make nice edging plants in the ornamental garden, if you don't have problems with animals.
'Genovese' - Larger leaves than 'Sweet Basil', with all the flavor.
'Cinnamon' or 'Mexican Spice' - Green foliage, purple flowers, with a spicy, cinnamon scent.
'Finissimo Verde a Palla' & 'Spicy Clove' - Quick growing compact plants that are great for containers and edges.
'Lemon' - Gives a fresh lemony tang to pesto. Small leaves can be harder to harvest. The cultivar 'Sweet Lemon Dani' or 'Sweet Dani' has lemon flavor and larger leaves.
'Red Rubin' - Keeps purple color throughout the season with great flavor. Wonderful in vinegars.
There are also short 6" dwarf varieties, which work especially well in pots.
Burpee Basil Sweet Seed Model # 56762 HD Store SKU # 287470 $1 Burpee Basil Sweet Seed grows up to 16 in. tall in full sun and can be harvested in 24 weeks. The leaves of this annual are the main ingredient of pesto and flavor tomatoes and mild-flavored vegetables as well as veal and lamb dishes. Sweet Basil is the main ingredient in pesto and flavors a variety of tomato, veal, lamb and mild-flavored vegetable dishes
Can also be grown in containers Designed to grow in full sun 168 days to maturity For an early start, sow seeds indoors 8 weeks before outdoor planting time Plant 1/4 in. deep and 1 ft. apart 12 - 18 in. mature height For an early start, sow seeds indoors 8 weeks before outdoor planting time.
Burpee Basil Sweet Seed Model # 65837 HD $1 Store SKU # 361308 Take your cuisine up a notch with Burpee Basil Sweet Seed. These homegrown herb seeds can be sown and harvested and then used to make excellent pesto.
Sweet basil seeds grow into fresh basil leaves which taste great in a variety of dishes Full sun exposure 14 days to germinate, 12 weeks to harvest Plant 6 in. apart 12 - 18 in. mature height
Basil is ready to start harvesting in about 60 - 90 days, from seed.
Start from Seed Indoors
Basil is easy to grow from seed, but because Basil needs a reasonably high - and stable - temperature to INITIATE GERMINATION.
With that in mind, it is always best to sow basil seed indoors - irrespective of whether it will end up being planted up outside or not.
Plant in Rich Hot Sun, Give it Rich Soil and Water well
Basil is traditionally planted alongside tomato plants. It's said they help each other grow, but it may just be for convenience in harvesting.
And it can easily be grown in containers. Give it at least a 12" pot and a sunny site and it should do very well.
Basil is a heat lover. Don't bother planting it until the daytime temperatures remain in the 70s F. and night temperatures are above 50 degrees F. Seeds can be started indoors 3-4 weeks before last spring frost date.
Unlike many Mediterranean herbs, basil likes a somewhat rich soil and doesn't like to be kept dry.
Time to Plant/Days to Harvest:
Space plants about 10" apart. They will bush out.
Basil is very sensitive to frost and will be one of the first plants to go in the fall. You can extend the season slightly by covering your plants with row covers when frost is threatened. Don't let the row cover touch the leaves. Frost on the outside of the row cover is enough to damage the tender leaves and is to likely turn them black.
If you live in a frost free area, you might want to allow some basil plants so set flowers and self- seed in your garden. Not all varieties will do this successfully.
Pinching to spread out and Prevent Flowering
Begin pinching the tops off once the plants reach about 6" in height. If you don't pinch or harvest, the plants will grow tall and gangly, with few leaves and will bolt to seed.
Continually pinching and using your basil will coax it into becoming bushy.
You'll want to prevent your basil from blooming for as long as possible, by harvesting or pinching off the top sets of leaves as soon as the plant reaches about 6 inches in height.
If the plant sets flowers, it is on its way to going to seed and will not grow bushy and fill out with a lot tasty leaves.
Once a basil plant goes to seed, the existing leaves lessen in flavor, so don't be afraid to cut and use it. The flowers are edible, too. So don't despair if a few plants get ahead of you.