Growing basil as a herb is one of the most popular home-grown recipes for us with a green thumb. Basil is an easy-to-grow annual herb that grows best in traditional raised beds and woody gardens and grows just as well in containers. It has a pungent, spicy flavor that is commonly used in Italian cooking. In fact, basil is so popular in the kitchen that many Italian cooks keep several small containers filled with basil plants in their pantry or kitchen cupboard to save time during the more tedious cooking tasks. Here are some of the most common uses of basil for culinary and medicinal purposes.
How to grow basil indoors is easy when the plant is placed in a sunny window garden. The first step is to determine the proper positioning of your container garden. To ensure that the plant gets adequate sunlight, select a location not too close to any other structure such as a roof or wall. If your garden is not near structures such as these, then try growing it upside down. Just be sure to place the plant’s pots at the proper angle. Do not position them too close to each other, or else the leaves will be smothered together, and the plant may die.
After selecting the location and depth of your container garden, the next step is to determine what kind of plant to grow. Basil’s foliage will be shaped into delicate arching shapes when fully grown, but the main varieties grow upright and spread out, producing soft, beautiful blossoms. Basil’s flowers are also characterized by a profusion of small green leaves that have a tendency to burst open when the soil temperatures are warm enough. Harvesting the plants often requires pruning since the blossoms tend to develop deep roots.
When it comes to harvesting your basil plants, make sure that you do it only once a year. Basil leaves can easily dry up, so don’t harvest the leaves until the last day you are sure the plant will not wilt or dry out. In storing your basil for the winter months, do not dry them completely, but leave some of the leaf intact, for the plant will rehydrate itself through the cooling process.
Basil is most attractive during its flowering phase, which usually lasts from late summer to early fall. It blooms beautifully in various color variations, ranging from dark orange to white, pink, purple, and burgundy. The best time of year to grow basil is in early spring when the weather is warm and at least four or five days away from being exposed to outdoor air. During that time, the basil plant will be at its most fertile, allowing for optimal growth.
During the autumn harvest season, the leaves will drop off in one fell swoop, leaving behind a beautiful orange head of basil. Harvest before the foliage begins to die back. You can slice the plant into thin pieces, scooping out any and all leaves and stems as you go. Then, remove and burn or store the pieces individually wrapped in plastic wrap. Avoid letting any of the buds get too close to the ground as they may rot. If you live in a cold climate where frost develops frequently, it is recommended to harvest at night after the frost has passed.
After the harvest, you mustn’t press the plant’s leaves to the soil. If you do, the plant will burn and dry out. Also, don’t water the plant excessively during this stage since it has just begun to grow, not thrive. Keep the potting medium moist but not wet, as it should remain just below the surface of the potting mix.
Finally, you must ensure that you provide your basil plants with adequate drainage if you want them to grow healthily. You can do this by placing a tray under the growing medium. If the growing medium is made of a porous material such as gravel, break up the soil by throwing it onto the tray instead of onto the plant’s root system. This will allow the soil to drain more easily, giving your basil plants ample drainage. You should only need to water your plants every couple of weeks, even though you can occasionally add a little liquid fertilizer.