I bet most of you at one point or another have brought home a pot of Basil from your local supermarket. And wondered why it seems to die two weeks later despite your best efforts. Well, it is not you, it is how Basils are sold. Most Basil plants in a supermarket are in fact 20 seedlings all crammed into a pot fighting for space, food and water. If you want to start growing Basil successfully I have a guide for you. Basil is used as a key ingredient in Italian dishes including pizza and pasta. It is the main ingredient in pesto and it is delicious fresh in salads especially with homegrown tomatoes.
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How to get your Supermarket Basil to Survive
If you are tempted by Supermarket Basil plants here is how you can keep it alive.
- Take the clump of plants out of their pot.
- Divide the root ball into quarters by gently tearing it apart with your fingers.
- Trim out the smallest and weakest plants by snipping them off at soil level
- Leave a maximum of five strong seedlings per clump.
- Plant up each clump into its own plastic pot, the same size as the original pot
- Give your newly Basil a good soaking and place them in a sunny spot
They will soon recover, giving you months of fragrant harvests – and four pots for the price of one.
How to start Growing Basil successfully from Seed
Start sowing seeds in April in modular trays sowing one seed per module. Lightly cover with compost and place in a warm place for the seed to germinate, the seedlings should emerge within 2 weeks.
When the plants have more than 5 ‘true’ leaves, transplant them to their final growing positions. This could be a slightly larger pot (10cm in diameter) to sit on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse bench, or outside in a warm, sunny position.
If you plant your basil outside, do so after all risk of frost has passed, from late May onwards. Basil is difficult to grow outside as it is a native of India.So unless you have a very sunny South facing wall, I recommend sticking to the windowsill, greenhouse or polytunnel.
Gently remove each seedling and place in a planting hole 1cm in diameter. Firm the soil or compost back gently and water well. Each seedling should be placed about 10cm apart to give it enough space to mature properly.
Pinch out the growing tips regularly which helps to produce a compact and bushy plant with plenty of aromatic leaves.
How to harvest Basil
When the plant has reached a good size, pinch or cut the leaves off as required.
Avoid getting over zealous with the scissor on whole stems as this will weaken your Basil. Remove any flowers that appear; this will enable the plants to concentrate their energy on growing tasty leaves.
It is best growing a few pots of basil and to harvest a few leaves from each plant and there are lots of varieties to choose from.
Varieties of Basil
This is the most popular variety grown and the one you get in supermarkets pick up seeds here
Lime scented green leaves that can be used in cooking, eaten raw or alternatively used to make a delicious herbal tea. Get your seeds here
Summer surprise with purple leaves and stems make a colourful alternative to the common green basil in a wide range of dishes, including salads, pasta, pizza and tomato dishes.Can be grown as a microgreen on a windowsill – ready in just 21 days! Delicious in salads and pasta – get your seeds here
Cinnamon Basil is a warm season annual with cinnamon-spiced, aromatic leaves
Produces deeply scented dark green leaves with a good lemony flavour. The dark green leaves can be added to teas or for flavouring fish and meat dishes or simply shredded into salads. Get your seeds here
I have made a Handy FREE Quick Grow guide which you can download by clicking the image below
If you enjoyed this post check out my other gardening posts here Organic Vegetable Gardening Posts on Snapshot and Snippets.
Or try these posts
- The Herb guides – Growing Chives
- How to start Preserving herbs
- Growing Microgreens – a simple guide
- How to grow your own Lentils
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