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If you know your way around the kitchen, you’ve surely worked with basil. A favorite in pesto, tomato sauces and Mediterranean cuisine, basil is an easy-to-grow herb that adapts easily to a variety of growing conditions. Try your hand at growing fresh basil, and I promise you’ll never go back to using the dried herb.
Growing basil indoors is easy because the herb is well-suited for container gardening. Fill a small planter with rich soil–I recommend using half compost and half garden soil. Be sure that your container has adequate drainage. Plant basil seeds under about ½ inch of soil, and place the pot on a south-facing windowsill to germinate. Like most herbs, basil does not like too much moisture, so water only when the top ¾ inch of soil is dry to the touch. The seeds will germinate in 5 to 7 days.
Once your basil plant grows several sets of true leaves, begin pruning and using the herb. When taking cuttings from basil, cut full stems instead of individual leaves. They will grow back. When basil approaches the end of its season, it will begin to flower. Pinch away these flowers as they appear to extend the season.
One of the simplest (and most flavorful!) basil recipes is the Caprece salad. Layer large, fresh basil leaves on sliced Roma tomatoes and top each with a slice of fresh mozzarella. Season with salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. This easy salad doesn’t require a ton of ingredients to make a statement—the fresh, homegrown basil speaks for itself!