I love to grow basil. The Italian Large Leaf variety of basil to be exact. This variety of basil has such a nice aroma to it, you can almost smell the mozzarella cheese, home grown tomatoes and olive oil you can add to your basil for a nice summer dish.
Just as good as the smell of fresh basil, is how easy basil is to grow at home. Basil is one of those plants that can be grown in your backyard vegetable garden or in pots, if limited space is an issue. Either way, your basil will grow fine. The downfall of basil (as if basil really had any), is that basil loves heat. Even the slightest cooler temperatures (under 50 degrees Fahrenheit), may make your basil fall over and begin to wilt.
The upside of your basil, because basil loves heat, your basil will do very well in the summertime. With your basil’s quick to maturity growing capabilities, you can be enjoying fresh basil in just a few weeks.
Basil seeds are fairly small and while you can plant your basil seeds up to a quarter of an inch deep, all you really need to do is lightly cover your basil seeds with some soil.
If you are going to start your basil seeds indoors, just make sure your basil seeds, when planted, are placed in a warm location and receive at least 5 hours of sunlight daily. If you decide to sow your basil seeds directly outdoors, you want to make sure that temperatures remain above 50 degrees, or otherwise cover your basil with a cloche, row cover etc.
The Italian Large Leaf variety basil, when given the room, will grow very large. So make sure you space out your basil at least eight inches. Your basil will use up that space.
Regardless of which variety of basil you decide to go with (there are plenty to choose from), most varieties of basil love full sun and require a light, but even watering. As a side note, basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes.
A lot of people like to “warm” up their garden beds for their basil. This can easily be accomplished by laying a clear .6 mil. thick plastic tarp over top of your garden beds and letting the sun do the work for you. This process will create a nice warm area for your basil.
Expect your basil seeds to germinate in as little as 5 days, although 10 days is more likely.
One of the beauties of basil is that you do not need to harvest the entire plant. You can simply snip off basil leaves with a pair of scissors and use it when you need it, leaving the basil in the ground to continually grow.
The real hard part is finding recipes for all that home grown basil you are about to grow.