Basil is one of the most popular culinary herbs to grow and to use, in particular sweet basil varieties. As history has it, this herb does not find its origins to any of the Mediterranean countries but fixed around India and East Asia.
Whilst the large Sweet Basil leaves finds its way into alfresco Mediterranean dishes; smaller Greek Basil finds its way into ragu sauces and turned into a dried herb. Thai Basil add spicy fragrances to aromatic dishes from the East and add a splash of colour with Red Basil.
Here's our guide to growing Basil:
How, Where & When to Grow Basil
In early spring (late February) sow seed in seed or module trays and cover with vermiculite, lightly water and place in a propagator, germination taking place in 5 to 7 days. Once seedlings pushes out first true leaves, pot on into individual 7.5cm pots. Seeds can also be sown direct where they are to grow in early summer. Planting area should be a moist, well-drained site and will require a sunny site. Plant Basil outside once all chances of frost have passed. They will need a warm sunny spot.
Whether thinning direct sown or final planting seedlings, plant out with distance of 30-45cm between plants.
Watering should be kept to a minimum and during the growing season plants will appreciate a high nitrogen feed once every 2 weeks. Pinch out growing tips out, to create a strong bushy plant.
Harvest a few leaves per plant as and when required.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C. It's also a good source of calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids. Basil isn't simply for internal use. When Basil's oils are extracted to make an essential oil, it is used for treating cuts, wounds, and skin infections.
The first thing to do with a glut of Basil is to make your own Pesto…but there are many other tasty dishes too…add a flavour bomb to any green salad, just remember to tear the leaves and not cut for maximum flavour…sprinkle on pasta dishes to bring a fresh and aromatic zing… and the Sweet Thai variety bring a brightness to Asian dishes.
If you're thinking of sowing other vegetable and herb seeds, discover more of our growing guides.