Basil requires warm temperatures so wait until all signs of frost are past before planting. Alternatively, basil can be grown inside in pots as well.
Basil originated in India although it has become a primary ingredient in Italian tomato sauces.
If you have a short growing season, you can start your basil in the house 6-8 weeks before it can be planted outside.
Basil usually comes through the soil in approximately one week. Most people grow Sweet Basil and use it for cooking.
There are many basil varieties–other popular ones are purple and lemon basil.
Basil is best planted in moist but well-drained soil and it likes to have lots of compost and manure. Much sunlight is also good.
As the plant starts to flower, the buds should be removed so that the plant can concentrate on funneling all of the nutrients to its leaves. Make sure your basil is well-watered but be careful not to let the water touch the leaves.
You can harvest basil leaves throughout the growing season. In the fall basil plants can be dried and the leaves crushed and stored in airtight containers. You can freeze the basil leaves as well.
Many people think that basil works as an insect repellent for mosquitoes and that it deters pests from other garden plants.
Research has not proven any of these claims.
Instead, basil itself has many pests of its own, including cutworms, spider mites, nematodes, Japanese beetles, slugs, aphids and grasshoppers.
In learning how to grow basil, you will need to find the answers to controlling these pests.
Whiteflies are not much of a problem for outside basil plants, but do affect those grown in greenhouses. There are several kinds of organic sprays you can make, or you can treat the plants with an insecticidal soap from a natural gardening store.
To prevent cutworms from cutting the plant off at the base of its stem and the ground, it is necessary to plant using a cutthroat collar. This can be something as simple as a piece of newspaper wrapped around the stem of the plant so that it’s approximately one inch about the ground and one inch below the ground.
Nematodes can be removed by adding lots of natural compost to your soil. Slugs, however, are hard to get rid of and can literally destroy basil and many other plants.
Plant specialists recommend using copper fencing around the plants. The copper gives the slug a charge to its system to discourage it from climbing the fence but does not kill it.
As part of learning how to grow basil, ask your local farm and garden center or extension service for probable pests and solutions for your area of the country.
As long as you are able to overcome these little pests you will be able to produce basil that can be stored throughout the year to add to pesto sauces and many other foods.