Basil is really a treat in the garden. Fresh basil throughout the summer months is a wonderful addition to your eating experience. It really is easy to love and easy to keep with just a few thoughts in mind:
- Start basil indoors 4 weeks before last frost.
- seeds need 70 degrees or higher to germinate. Use under heat if possible.
- Basil sprouts should get a soft pinch in their pots when there are 4 sets of leaves on the seedling. A soft pinch would mean just removing the very top set of baby leaves with your finger nails. This will cause the growth back down into lower leaf bracts to send out new leaves, creating a bushy plant.
- You may wish to do a soft pinch again after plant fills out.
- Plant basil in Sunny location. At least 6 hours of direct sun.
- Well drained, nitrogen rich soil is important.
- Spacing- 12-14"
- Don't let Basil even look sad from lack of water. Never let the soil dry out for an extended period of time. You don't want it to think it should flower.
- If it begins to push flowers, cut them off the entire plant.
- You can throw a handful of manure at its base a few weeks after it gets established. That is, when you notice the plant seems over its transplant "shock" and begins to put on new growth steadily.
Harvest and Uses
- cut back a few of the top sets of leaves to use in fresh recipes. Plant will then push new growth from pinch back well into the summer season and fall if not flowering.
- Plant several and harvest whole plants to make pesto.
- Dry with dehydrator on VERY LOW HEAT for several days until dry. Don't let leaves touch while drying. Keep out of light.
- Break up dry leaves with your hands.
- Store in air tight, dark jar.
- Great on pasta and in sauces.