One of the easiest and most popular herbs to grow in your garden has to be Basil. It’s great in salads, pasta dishes, as a pizza topping and of course, as the main ingredient in basil pesto. I just love having fresh basil in the garden during summer.
Basil is super easy to grow, and it practically costs you nothing. We initially bought a tray of 6 basil seedlings probably about 7 or 8 years ago and we haven’t bought any since. As our basil plants mature towards the end of summer, and the seeds appear, I harvest the seeds and keep them until next spring.
Your basil plant will grow just about anywhere! We have planted basil in pots, on its own, as well as around trees and also around other flowers, also in pots. It just grows. I sow the seeds directly in soil, so no seedling trays are needed. You’ll begin to see the first sprouts appear within two weeks.
Basil does need regular watering as it continues to grow so if you are in a drought prone area, make sure that you keep the soil moist, but avoid drenching. Another good thing about basil is that it does, at times, self-seed and you’ll see little plants pop up in early spring, near and around the mother plant of the previous year.
It is an annual plant though, so you will have to keep re-planting it each year. It usually takes about 2-3 months for the basil plant to grow tall and bushy, but the more you pick the leaves, the more leaves your basil plant will grow.
In the photo below, you can see some of our basil plants growing quite happily around the fig tree in our garden. These still get plenty of sunlight coming through and they are still thriving now, at the beginning of autumn.
In this photo, you can also see that our basil plants have begun to seed. I won’t be harvesting the seeds just yet, as they are still a bit green, but in just a couple of more weeks the seeds will turn to light brown in colour and will feel dry to the touch. At that point, the seeds will come off the stem easily. I store my basil seeds wrapped in a small piece of paper.
If you’re a fan of basil, you really should be growing your own basil. For me, no other packaged basil that you can buy anywhere in the shops can beat the flavour and the fragrance of freshly picked basil from the garden! We use our basil regularly in the summer months.
I love sprinkling fresh basil on top of pasta dishes, once they’re cooked, and as a pizza topping, also once the pizza is done. Basil loses its flavour and colouring when cooked so it’s really always a last-minute addition to meals. I also quite often whip up some basil pesto and we have that with pasta as a meal on its own.
To preserve basil, I have successfully dried basil leaves when they’re most abundant at the end of summer, but I must say that once dried, the leaves don’t retain much flavour, so I wouldn’t recommend doing this.
Instead, you can freeze basil by pureeing washed leaves in a blender or food processor, adding water as needed to make a thick but pourable puree. Pour the puree into ice-cube trays and freeze, then pop them out and store them in freezer bags to use as needed in sauces or pesto.
Do you grow your own basil? Or any other herbs? If you have any tips to share about growing basil, please share with us in the comments below. I’d appreciate it.
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