Having fresh Basil at hand when cooking is one of those things, that can enhance a lot of dishes to a level, that will surprise you. And it is so easy to grow Basil and have a thriving Pot in your kitchen to supply you with fresh Basil every time you cook. So let’s have a look at growing your own Basil.
How to grow Basil in a Pot? Basil can grow in almost any kind of container as long as it is large enough to avoid crowding. Basil needs 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight. You will need some organic fertilizer into the Potting Soil. Be sure that the Soil does not already contain any fertilizer!
Why should I grow basil?
Basil is a perfect addition for your Caprese salad or a bowl of spicy Thai soup. You can also make a nice basil syrup for your sliced strawberries. You can also add a few pieces of basil to your pizza to improve the taste and so much more!
You can easily save yourself the trouble of buying basil from the farmers market by growing it in your own garden.
It’s a cheaper option. You can also assure yourself of a fresh supply of basil every week.
A well-pruned plant can give about half a cup of basil every week. By planting it in a container, you can save a lot of garden space
How to grow basil in a pot?
Basil requires warm and sunny spots to grow. It basically needs 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight.
If you live in a place where it’s really hot, you might need to give it a bit of shade from the hot afternoon sun.
You might not want to put your plants out in early spring. You should wait 2 weeks after the final frost date to put them out.
Basil can grow in almost any kind of container. This could be a laundry basket or even a kiddie pool.
You’ll have to choose a container with enough free airflow and so as to prevent the plants from drying out completely. The pot should be large enough to prevent overcrowding the plants.
Mini-basil can grow in 8-inch pots but 12″ pots are generally better.
For the larger types of basil, including the green basil, Thai basil and cinnamon basil, you will require a 12″ pot or larger.
For a 3 gallon pot, one plant per pot is adequate. If you want to plant more, you will need a 4-gallon pot in which you can plant two basil plants.
Basil doesn’t do well in wet soil so you should make sure the soil isn’t too wet. A fabric pot will come in handy for this problem.
Fill the pot with basic potting soil and add some organic fertilizer before planting the plant or seeds.
But be sure, that the potting soil does not already contain fertilizer. So before you use it for your plant read the contents of the soil!
Starting from seed.
Being one of the easiest plants to grow, basil doesn’t require much.
You can start to plant your seeds inside for about a month before the last frost date.
Remember, you only set them outside two weeks after the last frost date.
Plant the seeds 1/4″ deep so they can get the light they need it to germinate.
The plants will germinate for about 5-10 days.
Once each plant has 3 to 4 sets of leaves, transplant them carefully into your pot.
Another alternative is to root basil in water. Take a basil stem and put it in a clear glass or vase of water. After some time, roots will appear on the stem.
Harden off the plant and then transplant it into your pot.
How to care for basil?
Basil requires just the right amount of water, not too much nor too little. You don’t want to leave your pot dry or your basil will just shrivel but also you don’t want to flood your pot.
So how do you know when to add water to your plant? Stick your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If the soil feels dry, add some water. Remember to water the plant at the base.
For nourishment, you’ll first need to mix some organic fertilizer into the potting soil during planting.
Sometimes the potting soil already contains some fertilizer. Before mixing any more fertilizer, be sure to read the label on the potting soil. You should add diluted liquid fertilizer to the potting soil a few weeks at a time.
You shouldn’t let your basil grow tall and lanky. Pinch it back when it is 6 inches tall to make it grow bushy. You can do this two or three times a week especially during the peak growing season.
How do I harvest and store basil?
As soon as the plant is big enough, you can begin using the plant leaves. When harvesting, it is important to collect from the top branches in order to avoid bruising or blackening the lower leaves.
Once you have harvested the leaves, you can keep them frozen in order to retain its flavor.
You first have to puree the washed leaves in a blender or food processor. Add some water to make it thick and pourable. Pour the puree into an ice cube tray and freeze.
You could also store the leaves in sealed bags and place them in the freezer.
Alternatively, you can store the basil leaves by drying them. However, this doesn’t assure you that the flavor will be retained.
First pitch of the leaves at the stem and then place them in a well-ventilated shady area. Give them about three to four days to dry.
If they haven’t dried completely, place them on the oven and adjust the heat to the lowest setting. Leave the oven door slightly open and turn the leaves periodically for equal drying.
Can I grow basil indoors?
It is entirely possible to grow basil indoors.
What you need to check on is the lightning. As previously stated, basil requires a lot of exposure to light.
You can use fluorescent lamps to provide enough light. Place the lighting a few inches away from the plant in order to prevent the plant from drying up.
What are the common pests and diseases that affect basil plants?
Most pests that affect the plant will leave evidence.
These include aphids, slugs, Japanese beetles and leafhoppers. For the more visible Japanese beetles, you can easily pick them up by hand once you spot them. You can also place a bowl of soapy water under the plant and shake them off the plant.
For slugs, you should look out for slimy trails on the plant or holes on the lower leaves and stem.
You can pull out a beer trap to catch them or create diatomaceous earth under the plant to hinder their movement.
Aphids will be harder to spot but you can tell when the leaves start turning yellow. If you notice any of this, be sure to use pesticides.
The most common disease that affects basil plants is the Fusarium wilt. It is usually characterized by brown spots or streaks on the stem. It also causes leaf drop, severely twisted stems, and stunted growth.
If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure you remove the infected plant before it affects the others since this disease has no cure.
That said, you should have all you need to know before planting basil in a pot. It might look easy but requires your unwavering commitment for them to grow fully.