Fresh Basil—What’s Not to Love?
It’s probably safe to say that basil is one of America’s favorite herbs. Its tantalizing aroma makes it a favorite herb to grow indoors or outdoors proximate to living space. And, its fragrantly-sweet, slightly peppery flavor make it a delicious addition to salads, sandwiches and just about any kind of cooked dish you can imagine. Most people are familiar with it as a longtime staple in Italian cooking, but it’s ubiquitous in cuisines around the world.
Interesting Facts About Basil Plants
Basil Gardening Tips
Basil likes sunny, dry weather which can be a challenge in some regions.
Minimum of 6 hours; 8 hours is better
Keep soil moist but be careful not to over-water; basil doesn’t like to be too wet and can tolerate brief dry periods. As always, be sure to water gently when seeds are first planted and just after seedlings appear.
Well-drained, warm, rich in organic matter; pH can range from 5.5-7.0. Basil requires warm soil to grow: at least 70°F.
70°F is ideal
In northern zones, plant seeds indoors 6 weeks before the last anticipated spring frost or direct sow outdoors about two weeks afterward.
Plant seeds ¼” deep. Basil needs good air circulation so thin plants to at least 9-12 inches apart (refer to seed packet for details)
Organic fertilizer can be added at outdoor planting time or 3 weeks after transplanting
Important to keep the ground around them from drying out.
Basil is susceptible to some diseases which may originate from your soil; be careful when watering not to splash wet soil up onto your plants. As always, it’s best to water in the morning. Be sure plants have plenty of air circulation. Insect pest threats include aphids, slugs and Japanese beetles.
Basil tends to grow fast and become leggy in hot weather. You must pinch back the plants to make them bushier and eliminate any flowers that appear.
Tomatoes, parsley, lettuce and peppers
Yes! Be sure the container has plenty of drainage holes
Basil can be harvested as soon as the true leaves appear, though you should wait until you plants mature a bit. You can continue to harvest all season long as the plants continue to grow. Harvest leaves from the top half of the plant.
- Among the most popular herbs, it can be used in a variety of recipes, medicinal, and home remedies
- Grow it to make your own delicious pesto or caprese salad
- It’s a beautiful, fragrant addition to your garden and may deter mosquitoes
- Basil thrives in sunny, hot, dry weather and is particularly sensitive to cold weather
- Basil dries and freezes well so you can use it year-round
- It contains a number of important nutrients including essential Vitamin K
- Attracts important pollinators such as bees and butterflies
Our Basil Varieties
- 9 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (peel first, see below)
- 2 1/2 cups chopped green bell peppers
- 2 1/2 cups chopped white onion
- 4 medium jalapeños, chopped (substitute 2 of the jalapeños for 2 cayenne peppers for extra hot salsa)
- 8 large cloves garlic, chopped
- 6 teaspoons canning salt
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
- Remove tomato skins. Make an “X” in the bottom of the tomatoes, then place in boiling water for 60 seconds. Then, remove the tomatoes from the water and place directly into an ice bath. The skins should slip right off.
- Make the salsa. Place all of the ingredients in a large pot and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until thickened and cooked.
- Prepare cans to be sealed. Transfer the cooked salsa into clean, sterile jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a funnel for this. Wipe rims of jars and, then place lids on top.
- Process with a water bath. Bring a large saucepan filled with water to a boil. Your saucepan needs to be tall enough to have the water cover the jars by 2 inches.