Basil is the herb of good wishes—it also smells lovely and is a delicious addition to a lot of yummy recipes. We have nothing but good wishes for all our readers and customers. And of course we want your lives to be fragrant and tasty, so here are some instructions for planting and caring for your own crop of basil.
How to plant basil
- Choose a spot in your garden with good soil that gets 6-8 hours of sun every day. Or fill an indoor planter with topsoil and place it near a south-facing window.
- Make sure the soil is moist, but not waterlogged, and not packed too tight.
- If you’re using a round pot, place a few seeds (up to 10) every 2 inches. If you’re using a long planter or a stretch of outdoor garden, scatter seeds over the entire area.
- Spread a ¼-inch layer of topsoil over your seeds. You don’t need to pack this layer down at all.
- Spray water over the soil—a spray bottle works best to ensure water pressure doesn’t displace your seeds before they take root.
- Basil usually takes a week or less to germinate. Keep the soil moist.
- Finally, when your plants have a few leaves on them, space them out so that they’re at least 6 inches apart. You can simply clip off plants at ground level to make room for the ones you want to keep. Or, if you want to keep it all and have the space, transplant each sprout by its roots.
Caring for your basil plants
- Make sure your basil is getting at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. If you’re growing it indoors you can supplement its diet with artificial light. If it’s only getting artificial light, it needs at least 10 hours of light.
- If your basil is indoors, make sure the air circulates well. You can use an electric fan to blow a gentle breeze across the plants to keep the air around them from being too stagnant.
- It’s a good idea to check the soil regularly. Press your finger into it to make sure it’s a bit damp. If it feels dry, give it a sprinkle. Avoid soaking your basil’s roots!
- Once your plants reach about six inches, you can pinch off their top stalks to make them spread out horizontally. This will keep your basil plants from looking like long, sparsely leaved shoots.
Using your basil
- You can pick off individual leaves to use without damaging the health of your plants. Toss one in the soup pot!
- If you need more than just one leaf, snip the stem just above a leaf-pair, rather than just below. This will give that stem the best chance at continued growth.
- The more you harvest (within reason), the leafier your plants will grow.