I have never grown my own herbs from seed but this year I thought why not I have the time? Now I have over 20 different basil plants to distribute over my garden because I couldn’t decide on just one variety. This year I have sweet basil, thai basil, lemon basil, lime basil and purple basil. Most are planted in my garden but I did save some for the pots up by my house for a quick snip to add into my dinners. Last year I made the most incredible pasta/pizza sauce and this year I’m going to stock up on even more because I made too little and it was gone by mid winter. Growing herbs is so beneficial for your garden and most of mine are perennial but a few that are Michigan annuals I plant up in pots by the house. Basil, Rosemary and Parsley get planted every year for enjoying but by far basil makes up the most of my planters.
Why grow Basil?
Basil is a great companion for tomatoes! It is said (not scientifically proven) that it helps enhance the flavor of your tomatoes and deters pests like tomato horn worm and mosquitos (not sure about that mosquito part for me personally). I always plant groups of tomatoes, zinnias and basil together in my garden beds because they like the same soil, light and moisture and are supposed to deter pests from each other. Plus there is nothing better than walking back to the house in the morning with a basket full of tomatoes and a fist full of basil and zinnias.
Many sources also list basil as great for digestion and it’s anti inflammatory properties.
I grow it mostly for sauces, cookie and pesto making.
How to grow basil.
Basil loves good well drained soil, heat and full sun. If you notice the leaves starting to curl a little bit, give it a drink.
You can start basil by seed 6 weeks ahead of the last frost or buy it at the local farmers markets. Depending on your region and climate you might be able to start it from seed outside. I never have good luck with direct sowing because of the greedy birds.
Regular pruning will help the basil bush out and produce flavorful leaves. Once a basil branch has 6 – 8 leaves, prune back to the first set to prevent from flowering. Picking the leaves regularly will help keep the plant going.
Make sure that you pick the basil (and produce/flowers) in the morning when everything is the juiciest.
If picked regularly, 12 plants will produce 4 – 6 cups of leaves per week.
I use herbs also in bouquets especially sages and purple basil varieties. They are so beautiful and enhance the look and taste of your garden. What is your favorite variety of basil to grow?