Home Vegetable Gardening: Growing Basil

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My favorite combination for basil is mixing sliced juicy beefsteak tomatoes with quarter inch thick mozzarella cheese then shredding the fresh basil overtop of the two and finally pouring some extra virgin olive oil on top to bring it all together. The basil really makes the entire dish "pop".

Basil loves to grow in the heat and any cooler temperatures especially frost could reduce your basil to near nothing. Follow the steps in this article to learn how you can add this great herb, basil, to your home vegetable garden.

If you plan on moving your basil plants outdoors as opposed to just growing them in containers or pots on your window sill, I recommend that you start them indoors about 4 weeks prior to last frost of the season in your area. You can either use a portable greenhouse (called a humidity dome in some parts of the world) which is available from any home or garden center for less than $5.00. This will help the germination process for the basil seeds.

When the temperature outside is above 75 degrees Fahrenheit then you are ready to move them outdoors. If it gets a little cooler in the evenings don't worry so as long as the temperatures do not fall below 50. If that occurs just cover the plants with plastic milk cartons by cutting the bottom of the cartons off.

Space your plants out at least 4 inches in an area that receives full sun. This will give their roots plenty of room to "spread" out and the required amount of sun they need to grow properly.

Basil requires light watering and since it needs only low supplements of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, chances are no extra fertilization will be required throughout the season so as long as you were adding quality compost to the soil prior to planting.

When the leaves become large enough to use, they are ready to be harvested. Using a pair of scissors, cut the leaves off right before you are about to use them to maximize the flavor you will receive.

Maximize the space in your garden by planting basil in between your tomato and pepper plants. Basil makes for good companions to these plants. Avoid planting basil between or near beans, cabbage or cucumbers as basil and these plants do not work well together.

As you can see it is easy to add some basil to your garden. Once you get some going and are able to add fresh basil to your recipes at anytime, you will wonder why you never tried growing your own sooner.

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Author: Bruce A. Tucker
Mike is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person: A Guide to Vegetable Gardening for the Rest of Us, available where gardening books are sold. Sign up for Mike's vegetable gardening newsletter at his website: AveragePersonGardening.com and he will send you a free pack of vegetable seeds to get your garden started.

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