Basil is an easy herb to grow in your garden. Learn how to grow basil and try out the delicious pesto recipe!
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The wind is blustery outside, and there is a slight chill in the air. As I think about what to make for dinner, my mind keeps going back to summer. It seems so long ago that I could just walk out to the garden and pick fresh vegetables and herbs for a nutritious, flavorful dinner. I am counting down the days until I can have that luxury again.
But then I remember, I did preserve some summer bounty. I made basil pesto which freezes really well. What a perfect way to have a little taste of summer on a dreary, cold day. As I taste the pesto, I am drawn back to the long nights of sitting on the porch, listening to the crickets chirping as the fireflies light up the darkening sky.
I am so glad that I took the time during the summer to grow herbs that could be preserved and enjoyed throughout the year, bringing me back to days spent in the sunny garden with insects flitting around and the sky blue above. I love growing herbs, and there are some herbs that are very simple to grow either directly in the ground or in pots. One of my favorite herbs is basil. It has such a fresh, aromatic flavor that can be a great addition to pasta and salads or can be the main flavor of a dish. It also has uses outside of the culinary realm.
How to Grow Basil
Direct Sowing Basil
Sweet basil is an annual herb, meaning it will have to be planted every year. If it is planted directly in the ground and it goes to seed, it is likely to reseed itself. Sweet basil grows about 18 - 24 inches tall. I like to plant basil directly in the ground in full sun in well-drained, rich soil when it is warm outside (basil needs a soil temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit). Seed in rows about a quarter inch deep. Spacing should be about 8-18 inches depending on variety. It should germinate within a week if temperatures are warm enough.
Growing Basil In Pots
Sweet basil can also be planted in a pot. Make sure it is placed in an area with full sun.
Starting Basil Indoors
Similarly, basil can be started from seed indoors and then transplanted into the ground or into a pot. However, I find that it germinates fast enough that it doesn't need to be started indoors ahead of time.
Pinch off the flower heads regularly before they bloom so plants can put all of their energy into leaf production. If the basil flowers, it changes the taste of the leaves and makes it less potent. When harvesting, do not cut the main stem, as it will not regrow. Pinch off individual leaves or leafy stems. Harvest the leaves as soon as the plant has enough to spare some. Keep basil cuttings in a jar of water. Just cut off the leaves with scissors on the lower two-thirds of the cutting, and then put the basil cutting in a jar of water. Keep it at room temperature.
How to Use Basil
Basil has a long history and has many benefits and uses. It has many health benefits such as improving appetite, being an anti-inflammatory, and containing anti-bacterial properties. Basil helps repel insects as well. When you're in the garden, try rubbing some basil leaves on your skin, or plant basil throughout the garden to keep harmful insects away.
Basil Pesto Recipe
I love to make basil pesto during the summer and freeze it to use throughout the year. It is easy to make and can be frozen in ice cube trays or in a container or baggie. The recipe I use has optional cheese, and you can use your preferred nuts.
Here is my go-to recipe. Feel free to get creative and adjust to your taste.
Happy basil growing! Here's wishing you a bountiful harvest! What are some of your favorite ways to enjoy basil?
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