Growing in your own backyard does not need to be complicated. I tell everyone to start simple and grow! As you grow, you will learn lessons and get better with each season. I recommend starting with herbs indoors (they are low maintenance, add delicious flavor to a meal, and a great way to learn). Having your own herbs is extremely satisfying and taste SO much better than anything you will buy from the grocery store.
Basil is a great start - it is a wonderful companion plant to tomatoes (to learn more about companion planting, see my post here). You can buy organic seeds (we buy from here) or transplant a starter plant from a nursery (we sell starter plants as well!).
So what can you do to make sure your basil thrives?
Choose a sunny spot (if indoors, a sunny windowsill). Basil needs 6-8 hours of sunlight.
Make sure the soil is not too cold (planting in containers is perfect so you can bring inside if temperatures get too cold).
Keep soil moist. Overwatering can lead to the stems to getting mildew, so water about once a week. Containers will dry out quicker, so may require more watering.
Harvest often. This may seems counterintuitive, but basil benefits from being harvested. Harvest early and every week or two throughout the season. If you start to see flowers, it definitely needs to be pruned. No worries though, simply pinch off the flower heads (which can be eaten). If you notice a black seed on your flower, this seed can be kept to be harvest for next season.
Prune. Pruning properly is essential to have a thriving basil plant. Make sure your plant is 6" tall before pruning. Use shears to ensure you have a clean cut (dirty shears can spread diseases between plants, always use an ethanol or isopropyl alcohol spray to clean). Keep the big, deep green leaves at the bottom, this will allow the plant to grow bigger. Choose the smaller leaves that are up top. Cut just below this small leave at the stem. Each time you make a cut, it will alIow new leaves to grow from that spot.
If you are looking for a recipe for basil,
check out our Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad Recipe. It is super fresh and delicious for summer! I would also recommend drying your basil for seasoning.
If you grow your own basil or use this recipe, be sure to tag us on Facebook or Instagram @thearrowsfarm.