Growing Basil

Growing basil is quite easy - it is a tender annual plant, which means that it grows from seed, you harvest it and it dies within the same year.

Because it is tender, it will need protection from frosts in colder areas.

It can grow quite large - up to 2 ft (60 cm) high in the season.

Growing Outdoor Basil Plants
It is best to sow basil straight into the ground as it dislikes being moved - it will check its growth.

It likes a sunny but sheltered place if you have one and is best in a light soil - add some sand if your soil is heavy.

Either warm the soil with a cloche (a glass or plastic one - you can make a cloche by cutting a plastic drinks bottle - use the top part) or sow after the frosts have gone.

If you choose to use a cloche, then that will give some protection against frost if you wrap a bit of bubble wrap or similar round it - beware of blocking all the light.

Make sure the soil is fine and sprinkle a few basil seeds on it - cover with a fine layer of soil.

If you prefer to sow your basil into pots indoors earlier, so they get off to a good start for the year, then start hardening them off in the spring. Take them outdoors during the day and bring them back in at night until all risk of frost has passed.

You can then either grow them on in their pots or dig a large hole to put the root ball in so that the basil plant's growth is checked as little as possible and transplant very carefully.

Growing Basil Indoors
I like to grow my basil indoors for the most part - I sow a succession of seeds all year round and then harvest as I need it.

Take a pinch of basil seeds from your packet and sprinkle them onto a plant pot - leave to germinate (I put the pot in a poly bag and seal it with a tie or use a plastic drinks bottle cloche)

Once you see shoots, then remove the bag and put the basil on a light windowsill.

If you sow a pot every month, then you can start harvesting from the three month old pot - once that's exhausted, then use the next oldest and so on.

I keep my basil seeds in a poly box in the fridge - that way they don't deteriorate or start to germinate.

Basil is reputed to keep flies away and that's one of the main reasons I like to grow basil on my kitchen windowsill.

General Guidelines for Growing Basil

Cut the leaves as often as you like during the growing season.

You can lift a basil plant to take indoors at the end of the summer and this should provide you with fresh basil well into the winter - it will be a fairly large plant by this time.

Fresh Basil is an essential in my basic herb garden for culinary use.

Grow it in the herbwheel illustrated

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