5 Tips for Growing Basil From Seed

Basil is one of the most popular herbs in the UK. Many of us tend to buy Basil leaves in packets or as a cheap small plant in the supermarket without realising how easy it is to grow from seed yourself!

Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K, manganese, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C. It is also a great source of calcium, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. Basil oils can also be extracted to make essential oils which can then be used to treat wounds, cuts and skin infections.

Basil is mainly associated with Mediterranean cooking but can be found in a lot of Asian dishes too! It has a lovely sweet, strong aroma and flavour. 

Mediterranean types are sweet with large green leaves, Greek with smaller leaves and a peppery undertone and purple, whose dark leaves and a milder flavour.

Basil can be used in so many dishes and is best used fresh, so try not to cook it too much as it will lose a lot of the flavour.

We will now give you our top tips for growing Basil from seed successfully!

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Pick a sunny spot

Basil thrives in a warm, sheltered and sunny spot. It needs approximately 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. It is essential to wait for your soil to have warmed up for a few weeks after the last frost before planting out your Basil seedlings, also remember to harden them off before transplanting them outside.

Choose the right container

Basil will grow in almost any container you choose as long as it has plenty of drainage as Basil likes to be moist but not soaked. Basil also needs plenty of space surrounding each plant so that air can circulate around the plants so make sure the container you choose is big enough for this. This is because Basil is prone to fungus. The recommended spacing is 15cm apart both ways.

How to start from seed

You can either direct sow your Basil seeds a few weeks after the last frost as mentioned above, or you can start them inside a few weeks before the last frost. Don’t plant your seeds too deep into the soil and water with lukewarm water. Basil seeds don’t need too much light to germinate so don’t put them by a windowsill. They do however need some warmth so you can create a greenhouse-like atmosphere by covering your pots or trays with a clear sandwich bag or something similar. 

Germination takes approximately 10-14 days. As soon as seedlings appear, remove the plastic and place near a sunny windowsill. Transplant your young Basil plants once they have 4 sets of leaves.

Watering and feeding

Basil plants are very sensitive when it comes to over and under-watering. They need to be kept constantly moist but not soaked, and the soil cannot be allowed to dry out completely. A top tip for knowing when to water your Basil is to put your finger into the soil up to your second knuckle and feel if the soil is wet or dry. If it feels dry-ish its best to water your plant. 

If your compost doesn’t already have fertiliser in it, mix some into your soil before planting out your young plants. You can also help your Basil plants thrive by adding some diluted liquid fertiliser every couple of weeks.

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How to harvest and store your Basil

Many people don’t know this but you have to pinch back your Basil plants often so they become a beautiful bushy plant and not a tall, lanky plant with only a few leaves. 

When three sets of true leaves have appeared, there will be one on top, and two sets on either side of the main stem. Once the two smaller sets start growing, you can cut off the main stem just above the set of leaves. Your plant should produce two more stems where the leaves are. When the new shoots are 4 inches long. Repeat this process on the new stems.

When harvesting, cut the basil stem and not just the leaf, as this encourages quicker and healthier growth. You can start harvesting your basil when there are 6 or more leaves. The key to a healthy Basil plant is continuous harvesting.

Your Basil leaves will last a few days in the fridge if you pick, wash and then dry the leaves, then store them in kitchen roll and finally into a plastic sealed container in the fridge.

If you find yourself with too much Basil you can make a big batch of homemade pesto and freeze in jars for a constant supply. To make homemade Basil pesto you combine your leaves with garlic, pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil in a pestle and mortar or food processor. It is so quick and easy to make!

I hope this post has been helpful for you, and you will now feel confident enough to grow your own basil at home!

Organic Sweet Genovese Basil seeds are available to purchase at seednsow.co.uk!

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