Basil is a rockstar in the kitchen that deserves a spot in every herb garden.
Popular examples include Genovese, lemon, lime, purple, and Thai. Genovese is the most popular basil variety. Grow and experiment with several varieties each season!
This annual is easy to grow from seed and will benefit from the frequent harvest.
Once your basil plants have grown to be about 12 inches tall, pinch off the top leaves about an inch or two above the second set of leaves. This will encourage the plant to grow into a shorter bushy shape rather than becoming long and leggy. Plant basil in full sun (6-8 hours daily is ideal). Provide afternoon shade in warmer regions.
Basil likes rich, well-drained soil. So water frequently, but don't let their roots stay super wet.
Storing and Using Fresh Basil
A staple throughout Italy, basil is best used fresh. Just pinch the leaves from the stems and add to pizza, pasta sauces, or salads.
Trim the basil stem ends for larger harvests and place them like fresh flowers in water. Then, put it in direct sun. A common mistake is to store basil leaves cuttings in the refrigerator because they will turn brown.
Fresh basil is best added to cooked dishes when you are almost finished because cooking will diminish its wonderful flavor and vibrant color.
To enjoy basil all winter, turn basil leaves into pesto or preserve it in ice cube trays and top with extra olive oil, then freeze and use 1-2 cubes as a flavor booster.