Growing basil from seed is a simple, inexpensive way to keep fresh herbs at your fingertips. Basil is pretty commonly grown. You should have no problem finding seeds in the garden section of nearly any store in the springtime.
You can start your seeds indoors or out. If you are going to start your seeds outdoors, wait until the threat of frost has passed before you plant your seeds. If you are starting your seeds indoors, you can begin 4-6 week earlier.
To begin, start with a flat or container filled with potting soil. Be sure that your container has holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.
Sprinkle your seeds on top and cover with a light layer of soil. (Don’t over think this. Its simple.) Your top layer should be 1/8- 1/4 inch thick. Just enough to cover the seeds and keep them in place after a light watering.
Gently pat the soil down over the seeds and give your container a light watering.
If you are keeping your seeds inside, move them to a sunny spot by a window. If you are keeping them outside, select a sunny spot where spring rain will cut down on your watering. Plants in containers (especially shallow flats) dry out faster than plants in the ground. Check on your seeds and water them if the soil started to feel dry.
I chose to start my seeds outside this year. We had a harsh winter and a late spring. Normally I would plant my seeds mid- late May. Here it was mid June and the temperatures just didn’t seem to want to get above 70 degrees. In an effort to speed up my seed growth, I made a makeshift greenhouse out of materials I had laying around. I stacked some 4 x 4 wood pieces to make a frame and laid a piece of plexiglass over top.
Notice the purple bucket? I filled it with water to help keep the area under the glass humid. It didn’t help as much I as I expected it would. I still watered each flat daily and rarely saw condensation on the glass.
It took about two and a half weeks for the basil to begin sprouting.
Once they sprouted, I angled the widows so that they would catch the direct sunlight. This seemed to work a little better. I think I will try this method next year for warming up my seeds. That’s my cat Sassafras in the picture above. She likes to comb her face on my rose bush.
You certainly don’t have to build a greenhouse or find glass. I just wanted to experiment with the idea. Your seeds will sprout just fine from a sunny spot on your back patio.
After your seeds have spouted and are about 4-6 inches tall, you can gently remove them from the flat and transplant them into a larger pot or directly into your garden. Try to disturb the roots as little as possible when moving them.
They should grow pretty effortlessly from this point on. There is no need to fertilize them. Just give them some water if the soil feels dry.
Once mid summer hits, you might notice white or purple flowers growing from the top of your plant. Snip them off. If you leave them on, your plant will focus its energy on producing more flowers and seeds and growth will slow drastically. Pinch off the flowers so your basil plant will use that energy to produce more of those tasty leaves instead.
Thomas Suttles says
How would you plant Peaches & Plums (By Seed) ?????
Can you please guve some tips om growing fall blooming crocus here on the states.
I cannot, I really don’t know about them.
Impressive write-up! Great guidance and the tips you have provided on growing Basil. This will be a great help for the gardeners, especially newbies. Thanks a lot for sharing your knowledge with us.
Mike or anyone….We have a question from California:
Mike, I’m currently raising about 500 rosemary starts. I also have about 500 basil, 300 arugala, mint etc. It gets very hot and dry here in Bakersfield ca. All of these items and more are in my hoop house which is 12’X75′. What do I need to do to raise herbs through the summer?
THNX, MIKE HILTON
Leon Locke says
Computer died and lost a lot of programs
one of which was the ” Secret Handbook ”
Could send me it again .
Just sign up for the newsletter again and you’ll get a link to the booklet download.
i so much enjoy your e-mails and all the knowledge you have imparted to me as a very novice veggie grower. all my veggies are growing well but i have a huge problems getting my green peppers, chilli and egg plant seeds to sproute. i have tried sprouting them in soil , also in the papertowel method . i even tried soaking them over night but nothing seem to work!!!! any suggestions?
Get a cookie sheet with a towel on it folded in half place your seeds in a damp paper towel inside a ziplock bag and cover. Get a long crockpot take the ceramic bowl out of it. turn it on low heat an place the cookie sheet on top of it. If not a crockpot try a box with 1or 2 light bulbs for the heat
Hi Mike, Would you please share the best time for peak flavor and how to harvest fresh herbs.
Dear Mike, I just finished 2 flower beds around my house with 10 sheets of news paper followed by 3 inches of compost and then bark chips on top of that. My question is this: Will my tulip bulbs be able to penetrate the newspaper in the spring? If not, how do I keep the weeds away if I have to dig holes to replant my bulbs through the paper?
Thanking you in advance for your answer! I am already weeding a lot less!
Your tulip bulbs will push through the newspaper. By spring it will be wet and soggy.
Hi I have lots of sweet basil can you eat this? Its a purplish plant smells good ! please let me know thankyou!
Carrie Lonsdale says
Are you talking about Thai basil? It is a more purple leaf and pink blossom
Ken Tait says
Mike, I am no expert on gardening by any means, but I think if you put down a sheet of Styrofoam under the flats covering the total bottom of the cold frame, even only a 1″ thick piece to keep the cold ground from keeping your makeshift cold frame warmer.
My rational on this is the cold frames from commercial green houses, ( i/e the ones I observed from Rockledge green houses when I was a kid growing up back in the 50’s ) are actually buried into the ground a little bit about 12″ to 18″ below ground.
That was how Mr Sherman started the tulips he grew.
This is just a thought and my observations.
That would be fine if your flats were in a heated environment. In a non heated environment the soil is actually warmer than the air during the winter.
Carrie Lonsdale says
That would work I just made a solar panel Styrofoam is a great insulator.
patricia scott says
Hi Mike, I wanted to ask you how do you get lyland cypress cuttings to root and grow please help me I have tried growing them in sand but after about 4to5 weeks they start turning brown and die please help me thank you patricia
Norm Welch says
Patricia, try this link to help you root and care for your leyland cypress trees. http://www.gardenguides.com/68424-root-leyland-cypress.html
Most all of my Genoves and Opal Basil has gone to seed aggressively. I’ve allowed all the bugs to come and take samples. I’m going to collect the seeds ( which are probably all hybrid and cross pollinated now, Thanks Bees!) I also have a couple of columnar basil that is doing anything but going to seed. It’s growing like mad, getting leafier and taller. The leaves are smaller but the smell is rich and fragrant. I shall make my Basil salt with this and take some cutting to bring in to overwinter since I don’t see any seeds in the near future.
I hope to not have to buy any green basil seeds next year from getting the seeds this time.
Basil is so easy to root in just water, so I root plenty and keep them on window sill all winter, fresh basil all the time. Gardenias also root in water, after the roots develop, I plant them in pots and keep in garage all winter . Note I have 2 windows in garage, so they get nice light. By spring they are ready to go in to bigger pots and grow like crazy.. I live in Texas the garage doesn’t freeze..
Darlene Wheasler says
In September, I let a few of my stems flower and go to seed. When the seeds ripen and turn black, I gather them, store them in an enveloped labeled with the herb name and date, and store them at about 55 degrees in my garage for planting next spring. Haven’t had to buy basil seeds for years now unless I want to try a new “flavor” or basil..