Just as tomatoes are our favorite vegetable, basil is our favorite herb. What a coincidence! They taste great together. Basil is also an herb that is so much better from the garden than the store. Basil doesn’t store well and is susceptible to turning an unappealing black fairly quickly after being cut or bruised. Not a problem for you! You’ll pick it as you need it.
There are so many wonderful varieties of basil, including tall, short, purple, green, Italian-style and thai. Many believe Basil Genovese to be the best for cooking and for pesto. At a minimum grow some Italian-style varieties (for those tomatoes) and experiment with others. Basil is a popular ingredient in herbal blends.
- Warm Season crop.
- Start seed indoors or buy plants. Seeds may also be directly sown in summer when the soil has warmed. For a detailed spring planting schedule, check out this Edibles Seed Starting & Planting Schedule.
- Start 5-6 weeks before your average last spring frost date.
- Seed planting depth: ¼”.
- Ideal germinating temperature is 65-70 F.
- Seed spacing: ½-1”.
- Average number of days until germination: 5-10.
Planting and Tending
- Plant in garden AFTER the last frost (dogwoods will be in full bloom) or use special protection to get ahead of Mother Nature. Soil temperature should be at least 55 -60 F to transplant.
- Allow 6-12” space around each plant (depending on mature size of the variety).
- Basil thrives when its leaves are picked on a regular basis. Pick the largest leaves and remove any emerging flower buds. Any extra picked basil can be stored in the freezer for the makings of pesto at a later date.
- Repels aphids, asparagus beetles, mites, mosquitos & Tomato hornworm.
- Do not plant near:
Visit the Herbs Forum at GreatLakesGardeners.com to get answers to your growing herbs questions. To ask a new question, Register if you haven't already done so(it's free and helps protect the forum from spam), click on Start New Topic, enter your question and click on Post New Topic.
You may also appreciate these books on growing herbs.