How to grow basil

July, 2016 · By Coryanne Ettiene

Learning how to grow basil, even the basics, will ensure that you are not starting your herb garden over again mid point through the summer.  I know because for the last few years, my basil has either been a masterpiece of gardening genius, or a disaster.  I’ve planted it in pots, in the shade, in the sun, outdoors, indoors and even trimmed it nearly as much as I clean my kitchen sink — some years I think I have it, others I’m humbled by how much I don’t know. So this year I deiced to study up and learn how to grow basil from the pros.

How to grow basil by Coryanne Ettiene

After 3 months of learning, putting things in to practice and wishing for a green thumb, I’ve learned a few things that make all my failings and wins over the past few years make sense. Most importantly in my quest to grow basil is that I can’t grow it from seed no matter how hard I try and that often, the plants that do the best for me are those paper pots with 6 inch plants eager to plant roots in a bigger container.  My basil sits on a shelf in our kitchen, just enough sun, not too hot and always within arms reach.

How to grow basil

  1. Basil loves moist soil with good drainage. Which is why it grows so well in pots with drainage spouts at the bottom.  If your pot does not have good drainage, root rot will start to break down the plant before it even has a change to flourish.  If you are planting it in the ground, pair it with tomatoes, soft soil and plenty of regular watering.
  2. Prevent flowering.  Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer and then pinch off the center shoot to prevent your basil from flowing.  When learning how to grown basil, this is the most important element in nurturing a thriving plant. Pinch the leaves from the tips of the stems to encourage the plant to branch and make more leaves.
  3. Harvest.  Once you plant is 6-8 inches tall, you can begin harvesting the leaves.  To harvest, pinch the leaves from the tip of each stem.  To encourage new branches and more leaves, and to prevent the plant making seeds or flowering, harvest frequently.
  4.  Sun.  Basil needs 6 to 8 hours of sun. Direct sunlight will burn your leaves, while too much shade will cause the plan to die.  
Once you have mastered how to grow basil, you find yourself asking what to do with it all. The obvious choice is a fabulous summer pesto — my favorite is a spinach and basil pesto that tastes like summer and goes down way too easy with a chilled glass of white wine and crunch bread.  Slather it on crackers, toss into a jar of store bought marinara sauce, add it to rice, toss it into your chicken soup…  really, what can’t you do with pesto. But before you can start dreaming up all your pesto dishes, you first need to learn how to grow basil.   
Spinach Summer Pesto by Coryanne Ettiene

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How to grow basil by Coryanne Ettiene

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