Basil is a very fragrant aromatic plant that makes a happy marriage with mozzarella and tomato, but it is also, among other things, the main ingredient of the indescribably popular Pesto. These are not its only uses. It is therefore interesting to cultivate it in the garden, on the terrace or the balcony since it likes both in the ground and in a pot. This allows you to always have a profusion at hand. Let’s take stock of the best conditions for growing basil, a somewhat demanding plant, and the care to give it and see how to harvest it.
Cultivation of basil
The basil must be installed sheltered from the wind most well exposed to the sun because he likes the heat. In the most southern regions, you can nevertheless reserve a small place for it in partial shade so that it can benefit from a little shade during the hottest hours. He also needs a cool groundit should never be dry, but perfectly drained so that the aromatic herb does not bathe in water. Finally, the soil or pot substrate should be rich in nutrients.
This is between the end of February and April we sow the basil. The ideal is to sow with a seed drill. The seeds are placed in small pots, egg trays or even in a tray or seed tray.
Care is taken to separate the future plants from each other. Once the seeds are in place in a substrate of light soil for seedlingssieved and well moistened, place the containers behind a window, in a warm place with bright light.
When the shoots reach 3 cm, it is necessary lighten in order to keep only the most vigorous.
Transplant the basil
Environ 6 weeks after sowingthe basil is ready to be transplanted either in a bucket if the risk of frost has not yet been ruled out (before the Ice Saints therefore), or in the ground or in a planter as soon as May 15 has passed.
Care is taken to space out the planes sufficiently, approximately 25 cm in all directions. Subsequently, in order to obtain very bushy basil plants, it is necessary to pinch the end young stems with regularity.
Caring for your basil
It is fundamental that the watering be regular and numerous, especially in summer, because the slightest lack prevents the basil from thriving. To limit evaporation, you can keep the soil cool with a mulch. Pot culture is demanding in terms of irrigation because the substrate dries very quickly. Vigilance is therefore essential. But in any case, it is preferable to water late in the evening or very early in the morning and avoiding wetting the leaves so as not to promote the occurrence of cryptogamic diseases to which this aromatic plant is particularly sensitive.
The hoeing important for successful basil cultivation. It keeps the soil cool and slows the growth of weeds. It must be carried out at the start of the culture and then regularly thereafter. A mulch avoid having to hoe so often.
Finally, the basil pruning is essential. It consists of the removal of flower buds that should not be allowed to prosper because if the basil flowers it no longer produces leaves.
basil leaves harvested as needed. We avoid picking them too early because the ideal is to eat them fresh, quickly after picking, in order to take advantage of all their aroma, especially since they do not keep well in the state.
The basil harvest must be done with care to give it every chance of growing back. Above all, we do not tear off the leaves! Cut the stems with scissors at least 10 cm above the ground and between two nodes.
Gardeners who are lucky enough to produce a large quantity of basil of various varieties can keep their pickings at freezer after having dried the leaves well in absorbent paper or inolive oil, even the old-fashioned way with salt in an earthenware pot. They can also prepare homemade pesto to keep in jars so that later they can transform a pasta dish, flavor a pizza or magnify slices of aubergine that are gently preserved in the oven…