Basil is one of our favourite herbs to grow because it adds flavour and beauty to our garden and cooking. There are more than 40 varieties of this fragrant and versatile herb available, but we especially love the aromatic lush foliage of the sweet basil, which makes a delicious pesto! Basil is a great starter herb for little green thumbs as it is very low maintenance, quite forgiving and a prolific grower. They are sun-loving plants and should be grown close to your kitchen so you can have a constant supply of fresh produce at your fingertips for all manner of family dishes. Plus basil will thrive when it’s pruned regularly.
We planted our basil next to our tomato plants as not only are they great mates in cooking but when paired together in the garden they share nutrients under the soil that improves their flavour and the basil aroma helps to lure bugs and grubs away from your tomatoes. So enough talk, let’s get growing!
What you’ll need
My First GardenTM
Basil seeds or seedlings (we chose seedlings to get a bit of a head start!)
Good quality potting mix
Water-filled watering can
Liquid seaweed solution
How to grow Basil:
- Choose a sunny spot for your basil or if you live in a very hot climate perhaps an area that gets a little shade.
- Prepare your garden bed with potting mix.
- Plant your seedlings leaving about 15cm between plants. If using seeds, sow them into moist soil and cover lightly. Seedlings should appear in a couple of weeks.
- Water your seedlings daily in their first few weeks then cut back to 2-3 times a week. Also use a seaweed solution about once a month to encourage stronger and healthier plants.
- Pick your basil often and pinch off any forming blooms, as it will encourage healthier and more luscious produce for your kitchen.
Uncle Kyle’s Home-grown Basil Pesto
What to do if you can’t use up all of your home-grown basil fast enough? Make pesto of course! This recipe is a delicious accompaniment to pasta, roast vegies, pizza and sandwiches.
2 cups of fresh basil
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Combine the basil, pine nuts, garlic and cheese in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Slowly add olive oil while food processor is on until well combined.
- Transfer to a jar and top with a bit of extra olive oil to preserve. It should keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge.
Basil is far from being just a means for flavour and can actually enrich your diet with lots of nutrients. It is a source of vitamins C, E and K, magnesium, folate and antioxidants. Plus, it has antibacterial properties and can even help to reduce excess inflammation in the body.