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Sweet Basil is a perennial culinary herb. There are many varieties of the plant with different shapes of leaves and aroma. The leaves of the Basil are soft and fragile. Many cultures use it as an herb but it also repels some insects like mosquitos. It is a soft, fragrant, and flavorful herb which is a valuable addition to many cuisines. Pesto, bruschetta, and margarita pizzas are right around the corner once you have mastered this herb's simple art of treatment.
Not only it tastes amazing but organic Basil also has some incredible health benefits that many do not know about. One of Basil's best health benefits is that it is a great source of antioxidants. Basil contains water-soluble flavonoids that can help protect white blood cells. Basil helps with the fight against free radical damage and is good for your digestion. It also improves your skin health, supports your liver, and helps people with diabetes.
Preparation for planting Sweet Basil
When it comes to growing Sweet Basil, you do not need much preparation. In fact, in order to grow this delightful crop, you do not even need to have any previous gardening experience. You will always have plenty of Basil to go around as long as you keep the following essentials in hand – full sun and well-draining, fertile soil. With respect to this Basil, the more sunshine, the stronger it gets.
While Basil tolerates a slight degree of partial shade, it will do best if grown in an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of full sun each day. For Basil to be grown indoors, aim for a minimum of 30 watts of full-spectrum lighting per plant. Indoor plants will need more light than outdoor plants, so plan on providing uninterrupted light for at least 10-12 hours.
Although Sweet Basil may be grown in less than optimal soils, infertile soils you will find that optimum growth and plant health will be achieved. Not only does the perfect soil contain an abundance of composted organics, but it will also provide plenty of drainages as well. For Basil to be planted outside, prepare garden beds a month in advance by working compost in the topsoil. Container Basil plants can grow with high-quality organic potting soil, which is mixed with perlite for drainage.
How to grow Sweet Basil from seeds
While you might go to the store and buy a plant, growing Basil from seeds is the best way to have a regular and organic supply of this herb. Here is a look at how Basil seeds can be planted and grown:
- Start planting Sweet Basil seeds 4-6 weeks before the average last frost date in your region.
- Fill the trays with fine potting soil or seedling mixture.
- Place 2-3 seeds per container. Cover the seeds only with the smallest amount of soil. The seeds need some light to germinate but they also need the soil moisture to cover them.
- Water the seeds very well and make sure not to flood the soil.
- Place in a brightly lit windowsill facing south, or position the plant under artificial grow lights.
Maintaining consistent humidity, your seeds should start sprouting within 6-10 days.
Transplanting Sweet Basil
Provided you have successful seed germination at least a few young Basil seedlings per cup should be present. Continue to provide moisture, and let them grow until they reach a size where there are two sets of well-developed leaves. Try to remove the weak plants and allow only the strongest Basil seedling to remain in each seed cup. At this point, they are ready to be transplanted into a container double the original size.
Continue to house them indoors until the last average frost week comes in. The plants will start the process of hardening off. The Sweet Basil plants may be permanently planted to their final location or container after the hardening has been completed.
Make sure that you wait until the overnight temperatures go above 20 °C (68 °F) plant seeds or transplants outside and remember to leave at least 20 cm (8 inch) space between the plants. The Sweet Basil plant can reach between 30 cm (12 inch) and 91 cm (3 foot) tall, and even more in the right environment, so make sure you have enough space.
Growing Sweet Basil indoors
Although Basil is a commonly grown outdoor herb, it is also possible to grow this easy-care plant indoors. You can actually grow Basil indoors much the same as you would in the garden. That way you will have fresh Basil all year long.
We suggest growing a few Basil plants in containers so that before falling frost you can take them indoors. Or create second outdoor sowing in June to have tiny crops for the winter to pot up and take indoors. As frost nears, some steam of Basil in the garden can also be cut off and rooted in water to be potted later.
Caring for Sweet Basil plant
You need to water the plant 3-5 times a week, depending on the temperature and humidity. Make sure the soil is moist most of the time. It can survive dry spells but do not wait for too long, especially if you see its leaves wrinkle.
Basil can be affected by multiple fungal illnesses, including fusarium wilt, gray mold, and black spot, as well as seedlings damping-off. Avoid these issues by waiting to plant outside until the soil is warmed and crops should not be overcrowded. Japanese beetles may skeletonize leaves of plants but this can be controlled manually by handpicking the pests.
Keep the soil moist and ensure that any weeds are removed.
How to harvest Basil
It may take 50 to 75 days before Basil is ready for harvest. Looking at the plant may indicate when it is possible to harvest. After plants have been established you can start with light-harvesting by just picking some leaves. It is best done when the temperature is cooler and the leaves are less likely to wilt. In our experience, it is best to harvest the morning Basil when the most flavor is retained.
You can harvest the plant after it grows above 20 cm (8 inch). An adult plant can be harvested continuously as long as you leave some branches with leaves. If you pinch the tips of a branch, it will grow more branches with leaves at the spot and become dense. It will stop growing once it starts blooming, you can keep pinching its tips to prevent that. Wash and dry the unbruised leaves after harvesting the Basil. To preserve them fresh before using do not store below 10 °C (50 °F) because they will turn black. For the full harvesting wait just before your organic Basil starts to flower.
If you are planning to make a large batch of pesto this is the best time of doing that. Harvest your herb by cutting half of the plant 8-10 cm (4-6 inch) above the ground fostering a second growth. When picking the leaves remember that they are easily bruised, so handle them carefully. You can extend this period and delay flowering by pinching or clipping off new flower buds.
How to store Sweet Basil
Basil is best fresh, but by drying or freezing it can be preserved too. If you want to put them in your freezer just wash, dry, and place the fresh Basil leaves in a freezer-safe container.
You can also tear the leaves into small pieces and freeze small lots of them in ice cube trays with water or oil. Once frozen, the cubes can be saved and labeled for later use in zip-lock type bags. This will maintain Basil's fresh flavor for up to four months.
Planted next to tomato will enhance their vigor and flavor. Growing tomatoes and Basil near each other is said to make each crop taste better.
Our Basil is also a good companion for asparagus, oregano, marigold, snapdragon, and peppers.
Basil helps to repel flies, mosquitoes, and thrips.
- Planting seasonindoors mid-April to mid-May
- Number of seeds2-3 seeds per container
- Depth0.5 cm (1/4 inch) deep
- Days to maturity50 days
- Row spacing15-20 cm (6-8 inch) apart
- In-row spacing15-20 cm (6-8 inch) apart
- Sunlight6-8 hours of direct sunlight
- Watering3-5 times a week
- Harvesting7 to 10 weeks after seeding
- PlantOrganic Sweet Basil
- Planted on
- First seedlings date
- First harvest date