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Grow at Home: Basil in containers or in the ground

Written by Sarah Talbot

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Posted on 4 January 2021

Growing Basil is simple and easy to do.  Just a single carefully nurtured plant will supply you with a good handful of basil each week. You can add it to any tomato dish to deepen and enrich the flavour. But basil and tomatoes are not only good on the plate together.  It is said that planting basil and tomatoes in the same bed enhances the taste of the tomatoes. 

From pasta & pizzas to salads & stews homegrown basil will make it a summer to remember.  Add a few more plants and you could be making your own pesto and eating it all winter too.   

Sowing

How-to-grow-basil-in-pots-containers-or-outside-the-best-way

It is best to sow a small number of seed at regular intervals form mid January to mid-summer to avoid a glut. Basil has a good germination rate so don't sow many more than you need.

Fill a 7.5cm (3in) bamboo pot with seed compost, and scatter a few seeds over the top.  Cover with a thin layer of vermiculite and water gently.  Put it into a propagator. If you don’t have one, cover the pot with a small, clear freezer bag and attach with an elastic band.  If you are planting other veg in Rootrainers then just add a line of 4 cells with your basil and pop the lid on.  

Once the seeds have germinated remove from the propagator / take the bag off  and keep them damp. When the seedlings have developed their first true leaves and are large enough to handle thin them out to one plant per 7.5cm (3in) pot. 

Top Tip: later in the season you can also grow basil from cuttings.  Select a 10cm (4in) section of basil that has not yet flowered. Place in a water and roots will form within a week. Transplant the basil directly into the garden or container once a good number of roots have appeared.   

Planting Out

Haxnicks gardening tips and tricks how to grow basil herb the best easy way

Basil will stay happily inside on your window sill.  Simply re-pot throughout the summer every time the roots show through the drainage holes. Use a slightly bigger pot each time up to about 8" (20cm). 

If you want to plant outside, wait until all chance of frost has passed and plant in a sunny and sheltered spot. Depending upon the variety, basil grows anywhere from 12 to 24 inches in height. Space basil plants 12 to 16 inches apart.

Basil does not like the cold, so whether you are transplanting seedlings or have planted directly outside in Spring, watch the temperatures and cover with an Easy Seedling tunnel if needed. 

Inside or out, basil thrives best with at least 6 hours of sunlight a day so plant where it will get this for maximum yield.  

Care

Aim to water plants in the morning if possible. Pinch out the tips of branches regularly to keep it productive.  Remove any flowers as soon as they start to develop.

Harvesting

Pinch off the leaves by hand from the tips of the stems as required.  This will help to keep the plant nice and bushy.  If you are using a recipe that needs a lot of basil like pesto then you can harvest the whole plant at once.  

Pests & Diseases

Aphids

Aphids (greenflies) do love basil so look out for them on the tips of plants. If you catch them early you should be able to pick them off, squashing between your finger and thumb.

Slugs and snails

Placing copper tape around pots or using beer traps such as the SlugBuster will help keep your basil unmolested.  Avoid slug pellets if possible as they have a harmful effect on the eco system in your garden.  

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