When all danger of frost is past, transfer plants outside in a sunny location, spacing 12-18″ apart, in rows 12-18″ apart in moderate, loose, medium moisture, well-drained soil. Sensitive to frost. Prefers a warm, sunny location although will tolerate some light afternoon shade. A good choice for a patio container. Plant height 18-24″.
For best results, consistent and regular moisture throughout the growing season is required. Pinch out growing tips to encourage bushy growth.
Basil, Sweet ocimum basilicum
Sweet basil is the summit, the standard by which all other basils are judged, and the favorite herb not only within the ocimum genus but in the wider classification of herbs in general. This herb has such outstanding properties that its history is full of magical, sacred, and romantic connotations in a wide variety of cultures. No garden is complete without Sweet Basil’s light green foliage and sweet, spicy aroma, just as no Italian dish is complete without its pungent flavor. It is also prevalent in Indian, Thai, and Greek cuisine, and there is no tomato in the world that does not improve upon contact with a leaf or two of basil.
Sweet Basil has a rich history and is currently the most popular of the culinary herbs. It is nicknamed ‘the King’s herb’ for its use in royal gardens throughout the world. Native to parts of Asia and Africa, it is now used in cuisine throughout the world. Nicholas Parkinson, in his Garden of Flowers (1629), writes, “The ordinary Basil is . . . to procure a cheerfull and merry hearte.”
Basil is an easy herb to grow as long as you observe several important rules:
Don’t plant it too early in the spring.
Wait until the night temperatures consistently stay above 50 degrees F. It will tolerate lower temperatures, but it will not thrive and can have real trouble bouncing back from an extended cool period.
If you notice dark spots forming on the leaves, it may be caused by cold water from the hose. Try watering in the cool of the day to remedy this problem.
A light harvesting of leaves may begin after plants have become established. It is best done in the early morning when the temperature is cooler, and the leaves are less likely to wilt. Full harvest should be done just before plants start to flower. Cut the entire plant 4″-6″ above the ground to promote a second growth. Leaves are easily bruised when picking, so handle with care. Store Basil above 50 degrees F. after harvest. If exposed to temperatures lower than 50 degrees F, basil can suffer from cold damage. Use a separate cooler space for cut basil, where you can control the temperature, or store in a cool, dark place.
If properly cleaned, basil seed can be stored successfully. First allow seedheads to dry on plant, then remove and collect the seeds. Store in a container in a cool, dry place