Basil is my favourite herb. The shiny leaves look great, it has a wonderful aroma and is perfect for pasta, pizza and pesto. It can be grown from seeds or seedlings and is very easy to grow in GreenSmart pots. Here are the four keys to growing great basil: plenty of warmth, consistent water, lots of nutrients in the soil and keep trimming back the leaves as the plants get bigger.
Conditions and Growing
Remember that basil is an annual – it needs to be replanted every year. The ideal times for growing in NZ are the October to February months as the best soil temperatures for basil are 18-35 deg. C. The plants won’t stand frost so take care with early plantings. Alternatively start your basil off inside and then shift the pot outdoors when the weather is settled.
If growing from seed, cover the seeds with a very fine seed-raising mix to roughly three times the diameter of seeds. Use the elastic-edged pot cover to prevent the top layer of soil drying out and the seedlings will emerge in about 7 days. Thin out the weaker seedlings. If starting with plants, then take care to not damage the roots during transplanting as they are very sensitive to damage. If you buy a punnet of seedlings with the roots intertwined, don’t try and separate the roots.
They like six to eight hours of sunshine per day but are also OK with dappled sunlight in summer. As they like well drained soil but don’t like going without water they are a perfect choice for growing in self watering GreenSmart Pots.
The plants will grow to be 30-50 cm high but They will quickly go to seed if stressed by lack of water.
If you shift the pot into a warm position in the house in late autumn then the plants will keep producing through the winter.
Nip off fresh leaves from the growing tips of the plant as this will help it to become bushy. Be sure to pinch out the flower heads to encourage the plant to produce more leaves. They are a ‘pinch and come again’ crop so keep on picking leaves as they develop. The faster growing leaves have the best flavour. The plants will start to die back after setting seeds following flowering, so keep nipping back the flowering heads to prolong the growth.
Types of Basil
Check out Kings Seeds herbs/basil section for plenty of choice of different types of basil.
Use a good organic fertiliser at the time of planting out and you can also add additional liquid fertiliser (eg liquid sea weed) into the water sight glass every few weeks. Yellow leaves are indicative of nutrient deficiency or cold conditions.
Avoid splashing water onto the leaves as it encourages mildew and fungal growth on the leaves.
You may find the plants become infested with whitefly or aphids so check them regularly – if the infestation isn’t too advanced you may be able to wash off the pests. Some gardeners recommend spraying with a mixture of dish washing liquid and water.
Basil grows well at the base of tomato plants.
Basil as Micro-greens
You can also grow basil as a great micro-green crop. Here is an earlier article about how to grow micro-greens.
Happy gardening – it’s good to grow,