herbs

Tips on Growing Basil

Basil is an herb that is grown for its fragrant, tasty leaves that are used for salads and sandwiches. The leaves can also be used in pasta and other dishes. Basil can also be frozen or dried to preserve the flavor. The more popular variety of basil is Sweet basil, this variety is commonly used for cooking. Another variety is the purple basil, so named because of its purple leaves.

People growing basil often grow them outside but sometimes it can also be grown in pots. When growing basil outside, make sure that the soil is free from weeds and well cultivated before sowing the seeds. The soil or compost must be moist for optimum growth. It is best to sow in late March to avoid the last of the frosts.

How to Plant Basil

Sow the basil seeds thinly and cover with about half centimeter of soil and press gently. The seeds will germinate in a week's time and when the seedlings have 2 pairs of true leaves you may thin out the weak seedlings and leave out the stronger ones.

Growing basil needs fertile soil that has been cultivated to give good air circulation. The seedlings also need sunlight, at least 6-8 hours a day. Water just once a day or when needed, sometimes the soil around the plants may still be moist so you do not need to water it. Watering too much can kill the growing basil. When growing basil in pots, make sure there is good drainage from the base of the pot. Lining the bottom with coarse gravel will help you with this problem.

Weeds in Growing Basil Plants

Weeds in the growing basil plants should be weeded out as soon as possible. Compost soil can help lessen the weeds but if they appear in the pots, you may pull them out. If the basil planted outside in the garden has weeds, adding organic mulch around the plants can help get rid and prevent weeds at the same time aid in moisture retention. Aim at the base of the plants when watering, so the leaves and stems do not get too wet.

When the basil plants start to flower, you may cut out the flowers or just pinch them out to aid in channeling more leaf growth and to preserve the plants flavor and to aim them more on the leaves. When harvesting, it is best to pick out the top leaves first and not to harvest all the leaves from the plant.


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Gardening Tip #6

Overwatering kills most houseplants. Looks can be deceptive, so to see if your soil is dry enough to water, try the finger test. Insert your index finger up to the first joint into the soil. If the soil is damp, don't water it.