Basil is by far my favorite herb to grow and to add to cooking. There are many uses for basil, but I mainly use it in making salsa, and adding to spaghetti sauce.
Basil leaves can be dried as well and used in many different situations. Some people use dried basil leaves as a fragrance in rooms of their house. I have even seen basil sherbet, but haven’t tried it yet.
Basil is also a main ingredient in pesto, which I love with some dipping bread or on sandwiches. Basil is most popular for being prevalent in Italian and Asian dishes.
There are literally dozens of different basil types with variations in leaf size, coloration, fragrance, and growth habit.
Choose a sunny location with rich, moist, slightly acidic soil that drains well. Plants seeds or seedlings in the garden 12-36″ apart after the last frost date for your area.
Basil is highly adaptable and grows well almost anywhere, including raised beds and containers. It does very well when inter-planted with tomatoes.
Basil can be grown from seed sowed directly into the garden soil, or transplanted as seedlings.
Basil is very tender, growth slows in cool weather and leaves may wither and discolor if nighttime temperatures are consistently below 45° F.
Keep plants in cold frames in cool zones or anytime frost is predicted.
Pinch out the tops of newly planted tall seedlings to about 6″ to promote root growth. Cut or pinch off flowers as they appear to encourage bushier growth.
Keep the soil around plants consistently moist and weed free. Side-dress plants with well-rotted compost and use mulch to conserve soil moisture.
There are many insects attracted to basil, but I would not ever recommend using any pesticides on an edible herb. Discourage pests by keeping the mulch from contacting the plant, and remove any unhealthy looking leaves.
Spray off aphids or mites with a shot from the water hose.
Basil is susceptible to fusarium wilt in hot, humid weather; look for cultivars that are bred for resistance and plant them in soil that drains well.
Remove and destroy infected plants, including the roots and surrounding soil.
Growing basil is very easy and requires very little maintenance. One or two good sized basil plants is usually enough for a small family.
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