If you enjoy cooking Italian and French foods, growing a basil plant in your kitchen garden is a wonderful idea. Basil has many uses including pest control, flavoring, and tea preparations. Growing basil from seed is not recommended, as it tends to be a very slow growing plant that takes over readily in a less spacious garden space. With patience and the proper care, however, you can provide a healthy flower and attractive green foliage for your herb garden.
Pinching young basil plants while they are 4 inches tall to remove the uppermost set of leaves in the growing tip. This will encourage lateral branching, which will result in a busier plant with more growth opportunities. You should choose one of the blossom end styles that come on the plant and place them carefully on your windowsill top. Do not pinch any of the leaves of the plant to get to the flower end, or it may bruise and weaken the flower head. Pinching each plant firmly, and after 8 hours of direct sun, repotting into a larger container of soil.
Make sure that your basil plant gets an ample amount of sunlight throughout the day. Basil prefers a sunny spot in your garden to grow but will tolerate shady spots as long as the sunlight will reach the needed area. Choose a shady spot in your yard that receives about six hours of bright sunshine, but not directly outside. Sunlight can make your herbs crisp but remember that too much sunlight can also cause damage to your growing medium. Basil will continue to grow well for many years in an area that receives an adequate amount of sunlight.
After your plants have grown to a reasonable size, you may want to consider harvesting your basil plant tops. To do this, simply cut the top off of a mature basil plant, then discarding the leaf edges. You should be able to harvest the tops from about ten to twelve inches above ground level. Keep the basil plant intact, and discard any fallen leaves.
Once the herb has matured, you can repot the plant into a new container with moist soil. If the basil plant was placed in a sunny window, you should place it in a slightly deeper dish, which will help keep the soil moist. When repotting into a new container, remove all of the previous pots or containers. You should allow about one-half inch of space between the pots and the dirt.
These growing tips are designed for those just learning the basics of herb gardening and are not meant to serve as medical advice. Before you start planting your first herb garden, consult a local expert. Basil is a very easy plant to care for, and a beautiful addition to any garden. Enjoy the health benefits, the fragrant aroma, and the relaxing mood that only good growing conditions can bring.