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How to grow basil

Updated on October 16, 2010

Basil is a great herb to grow at home

Most people only know the taste of basil from the dried stuff they buy at the grocery store. As it turns out, fresh basil tastes much different. You wouldn't think you were eating the same plant. There are literally millions of recipes that use basil, so having fresh basil at home can be quite beneficial. There are also different types of basil, so you can try out a few different ones in your various cooking masterpieces.

I'm going to show you how to grow your own basil from the seed to the final product. Cooking is up to you.

Which type of basil is right for you?

Why stop at one type of basil. For growing basil inside your house, I recommend cinnamon basil. It has a really lovely scent that will mask other scents that you might not like in your home.

There's also lemon basil, which as its name implies smells like lemons.

Purple basil has beautiful flowers and is usually just grown for decoration.

Growing basil

Start seeding indoors in late winter. Get some of those planting flats that look like they're made of recycled cardboard (it's actually manure). Fill them with perlite, vermiculite, and peat. Press down on the soil to pack it in, but not too hard. Make sure that the soil is damp before seeding. Add the seed, then cover with more soil. Don't pack this soil down. Cover your flat with plastic wrap and put the whole thing in a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Water two times each day.

Once you've got a sprout with a couple leaves you can replant your basil in a sunny part of your garden. Make sure you are planting well after the final frost, because your basil plant will die if exposed to frost. Cut off the bottom two leaves before replanting. Pat down the soil around the basil plant after you've replanted it.

To harvest your basil, just cut off the top two leaves. At the base of these leaves near the stem you'll find there are two tiny leaves. Cut the big leaf off just past those tiny leaves, being careful not to damage the little leaves. Once you cut the stem going out to the big leaf the little leaves will start growing bigger and soon they'll be big enough to cut.

If you are growing basil to eat you'll want to make sure you cut off the flowers that form. Also cut off the two leaves that are right below the flower. The plant won't taste as good if you let the flowers grow.

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