Basil is a summer favorite for gardeners everywhere. The fragrant aroma of fresh, in-season basil just can’t be missed.
By following a few easy gardening tips, you can enjoy more basil than ever before and get the most out of your basil plants. Your basil will love you for it – and will reward you with lush, tasty leaves all season long.
The #1 Best-Practice Tip for Growing Basil:
You should pinch the growing tips of your basil all season long. This will encourage your basil to grow into a greener, healthier, and bushier plant.
The growing tip of the basil is the uppermost set of leaves on the plant. Typically, there are tiny leaves forming at the very center of the growing tip. While small, they are visible. You should snip off the growing tip early and continuously for best results.
Cut your basil’s growing tips when they are big enough to eat and enjoy. (An aside: following this tip will also guarantee you actually USE your basil more, too!)
The #2 Best-Practice Tip for Growing Basil:
Don’t let your basil plant go to flower.
Generally speaking, herbs are less tasty after they have flowered..and some herb varieties actually become bitter. If you see a flower bud on your basil, cut it off just above the set of leaves beneath the bud. This is called “deadheading” the plant. (Gardening tip: many kinds of plants, not just basil, will produce longer if you deadhead the flower buds)
You can actually eat the basil flower buds. They taste great in a pasta dish or on a salad.
Ways to Use Your Basil
There are many ways to enjoy your fresh, homegrown basil. Just a few ideas to get you started:
- Make fresh pesto. Freeze for later and use all winter long!
- Add basil leaves to your green salads.
- Put basil on a tomato sandwich. (heaven on a plate!)
- Add to your pasta dishes with a little oil and fresh tomato.
- Slice and sprinkle on your pizzas.
- Use in a stir fry.
- Add it to your lemonade for a refreshing twist on an old-fashioned favorite.
- Throw a handful of basil leaves into your hot bath for an invigorating treat.
- Basil is good for indigestion – chew a few leaves when you’ve overindulged or have digestive discomfort.
- Use dried basil to make a calming tea for colds, coughs, and other ailments.
- Headache tip: Add a tablespoon of dried basil to 2 cups of boiling water. Carefully lean over the pot, cover head with a towel and breathe in the steam for 5-10 minutes until headache starts to subside.
- Chew up a basil leaf, remove, then apply to stings and bug bites for instant relief.