Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow at home and you can grow them indoors. There are almost 200 varieties of basil that you can choose from. The most common basil is the Sweet Basil with its dark green leaves. There’s several Purple Basil varieties that are also easy to grow and will add a nice contrast in a pot or in the garden next to Sweet Basil. Lemon Basil is another favorite herb of many growers.
Basil is a versatile herb and can be used in many foods such as soups, sauces, pesto, pasta dishes, and pizza. Growing your own basil will give your dish a fresh flavorful taste.
To grow basil indoors, you’ll need to purchase a package or two of seed from your local store. When purchasing seed, look at the different varieties and pick one or two different ones to add a contrast to your pot. You’ll also need good indoor potting soil, preferably without plant food as basil is a light eater. One round 10 inch pot will work very nicely. A popsicle stick or two can be used for labeling your basil plants. A water spray bottle will be needed to water your seedlings. Styrofoam or rocks will also be needed.
If you have styrofoam or those “popcorn” chips used as packaging material, use either to line the bottom of your pot. The styrofoam allows easy drainage when you water and it’s very lightweight so that your pot won’t be too heavy. If you have styrofoam blocks, just break small pieces off until you have enough to fill the bottom of your pot. Styrofoam will not hurt your plant and it’s a great way to reuse the stuff.
You can also use rocks to line the bottom of your pot. Small rocks can be purchased at your local hardware or nursery store. Never use rocks in your yard as they may contain fungus or bacteria that will make your plant sick. The last think you’ll want to happen is for your plant to become contaminated and die.
Now that you’ve lined your pot with either rocks or styrofoam, fill the pot up with the potting soil to about 3 inches below the rim. Open one packet of basil seeds and sprinkle them on one side of the pot. With a butter knife, you can gently spread out the seed so that half the pot will have this one variety. Using a popsicle stick you can write the name of the basil plant on it and place it in the soil near the edge of the pot.
Open up the second packet of basil seeds and do the same thing on the other side of the pot. After you’ve spread the seed, then sprinkle a small layer of potting soil over all the seeds to cover them.
Using a water spray bottle, gently spray the soil good. If you spray too hard the seeds and potting soil will move about the pot, so a gentle spray is needed. You’ll be using the spray water bottle for awhile , even when the seedlings appear, as anything else will be too harsh on the seedlings.
Move the pot to a sunny location near a window so the warmth from the sun will make the seedlings appear in about 7 to 14 days. When the seedlings are about 4 inches tall, you can move your pot to a sunny location outside.
To harvest your basil, it’s best to pick from the top so that the plants don’t get too leggy. Just pinch the tops off a few different plants, and you’ve got your fresh basil.
Basil can be frozen or dried for future use. If freezing basil, cut the stem at soil level and place the whole plant in a freezer bag. This makes it easy to break off the amount of leaves you’ll need for a recipe. If you’re going to dry them, also cut the stem at soil level and with an elastic, bunch and bind the plants together. Hang them upside down for about a week and then crumble them and store in a covered glass jar for a year.