How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

A Little Bit About Basil And Its Flavors

One of my favorite herbs to grow is basil!  It is super easy to grow and care for. There are so many different varieties of basil for one to grow.

I encourage you to try to grow several different varieties in the growing season.  It is great to discover all the different flavors that basil has to offer. Basil is known to have an anise or licorice flavor that pairs well with salads or olive oil and many other sauces.  Other varieties include cinnamon, lemon, and spicy varieties.

One of our favorite ways to use up basil is in homemade pesto!  We have been experimenting a lot with basil this summer and made a fantastic pesto chicken pizza and a delicious Soup Au Pistou {French vegetable soup with basil paste}!

Lets talk a bit about how to grow and harvest basil shall we?

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

Growing Basil

Basil is a tropical like plant that likes warm or hot weather.  Basil can grow anywhere from 1-2 ft high and needs ample space to grow properly.  Be sure to check the spacing on the back of the seed packet or plant info card to see how to space your variety appropriately.

Basil grows well in gardens and in pots.  If growing in pots, I recommend buying foam pots so that it holds moisture longer.  Basil likes well drained soil so make sure that there are holes in the bottom of your pots so that it can drain properly.

Plant basil outdoors when there is no chance of a frost or freeze.  Basil will bruise easily and if you plant when it is to cool it can easily damage your plant. Basil should be planted in full sun and in well drained soil that is enriched with quality compost.

Water basil regularly and mulch as needed to retain moisture in the soil.  

Pruning Basil

It is best to prune basil regularly to create a bushy plant.  See picture below to see the difference of a pruned plant and a basil plant not pruned.

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

Basil can be grown throughout the summer season and into the fall if you prune regularly.  When your basil plant starts to become woody (picture below), cut the plant all the way down to about 2-3 inches of the plant.  Just make sure to leave at least 2 leaves on the stems.

I left the two basil plants behind the one I pruned so that you can see how much I pruned off.  Don’t worry, it will grow back!  Do you see the new growth already growing?

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

You will be amazed how quickly your pruned basil plant will grow back and it will grow back fuller and more bushy.

Pinching Back Flower Heads

It is important to also pinch back flower heads of basil plants.  Here is what a flower head looks like.  In a few days this flower head would most likely have little white flowers.

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

To pinch back simply snap the stem off in between your two fingers.  It should snap off really easily. Remove all flower heads as they appear so that the plants energy is focused on producing healthy leaves and not producing flowers.

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

Harvesting Basil

When your plant is large enough to start harvesting, you simply remove the top of the plant as pictured below.  

Snap the plant at the top of the stem and then remove the leaves from the stem and put the leaves in your favorite salad/dish or you could cook or make your favorite sauce with your basil leaves.  

Remember the basil plant will continue to grow and you will be encouraging new growth as you harvest your plant so harvest regularly to create a healthy plant.

How To Grow and Harvest Basil | GrowingRealFood.com

Share Your Thoughts

Do you grow basil in your garden?  What are some of your favorite ways to use basil?

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8 Responses to How To Grow and Harvest Basil

  1. […] existing gardens or landscapes, and also in pots.  Basil likes the heat! . For more information on how to grow and harvest basil head on over to our other site: Growing Real […]

  2. […] How To Grow and Harvest Basil […]

  3. Tonya says:

    Thank you for this post!  I have a small basil plant in my kitchen window and was wondering why it wasn’t flourishing… it must need more sunlight, Ill try moving it to the patio…   I love the basics that you are writing about!  I have just started to learn about growing a garden and your blog has very helpful and interesting information!  Thank you!! 🙂

  4. josie745 says:

    just found your site & had to tell you your basil looks so nice. You do a really good job. I just picked a bunch & made pesto to freeze. Just love the stuff. We have Holy Basil that is coming up & can’t wait to try it.

    • hallecottis says:

      josie745 Welcome!  We are fairly new here and we are super glad you found us.  Holy basil hu?  How does this differ from the two basil plants that I showcase here?  I have yet to explore all the different basil plants so I would love your feedback on what you think of Holy basil.  We had pesto tonight and I just can’t grow enough basil…my girls fly through pesto.  I think I am going to have to grow an entire 4’x4′ bed of basil next year! 🙂

  5. mimiwoo4 says:

    I have found that sometimes I get yellow spots on the leaves of my basil plants.  What can I do to fix this?…..thanks

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