The main requirement for Growing Basil is sunshine. It will thrive when grown outside in the warmer parts of the US as long as it is kept sheltered from winds and is given plenty of light, but can be grown successfully as a container plant in most cooler regions. For best results Basil requires 6-8 hours of sunshine each day.
Sow the seeds onto moist potting compost in April, putting 5 seeds into a 5cm pot. Lightly cover with compost, water, and put in a warm, light spot; by standing the pot in a shallow dish of water will provide moisture. Within 2 weeks the seedlings should emerge, once they have more than 5 ‘true’ leaves they can be transplanted into their final growing position. This can either be a slightly larger pot, approximately 10cm, to place on a window sill or directly into the ground.
If planting Basil outside ensure all frosts have passed, usually the end of May. Transplant by gently removing each plant and place it in a hole about 1cm in diameter. Firm the compost or soil well and water, avoid splashing water onto the leaves.
It is important to water correctly, the growing medium should be kept moist but not sodden. When planting outside, each plant should be placed approximately 10cm apart to give sufficient space for them to mature properly. Basil likes fertile soil that has good air soil circulation; this can be achieved by digging well rotted organic compost or manure into the ground about 1 month before planting.
When the plant is about 10cm high and has plenty of leaves, pinch out or cut leaves as needed. Avoid cutting whole stems as this will weaken the plant and hamper its growth. All flowers should be removed as they emerge to ensure the plant puts all of its energy into growing leaves.
Harvest time is approximately 10 weeks from sowing. To ensure a constant supply of fresh Basil sow every 2 weeks throughout the growing season. If planted outside slugs will also thrive on the plants, so your preferred slug deterrent should be used, chemical-free is best.
Basil is a pick and come again herb, therefore the more you pick the longer the plant will last. It is advisable to pick a few leaves from a number of plants rather than strip one plant as it will probably not recover.
Growing Basilis a good starter herb for novice gardeners as it is easy to grow, as long as it’s kept warm, watered and sheltered.