What size mesh pot for basil

Properly caring for, planting and harvesting basil

There is probably no gourmet who does not know basil. The epitome of Mediterranean cuisine, tomato, pesto and pizza seasoning, basil is generally known. The plant genus basil (Ocimum) includes about 35 species that are common in warm or tropical regions of the world. They include annuals as well as evergreen perennials and shrubs. All of them love warmth and only thrive where it is not too cool. It's not for nothing that you know it from the south or on vacation.

Basil, also known as basil, belongs to the mint family. The lush blooms and strong aromas act like a magnet on bees, bumblebees and many other insects. Basil plants are extremely aromatic because the entire sprout has a high content of essential oils. Depending on the growing conditions, the proportion of the individual ingredients can vary greatly. There are also different varieties that differ greatly in terms of their aroma and use.

Basil has a long history in herbalism. In our region, the aromatic herbs are particularly valued in the kitchen. Experienced chefs appreciate its unmistakable note in tomato dishes, pizza, pesto, Asian and Mediterranean dishes, salads and soups, herbal salts, oils and vinegars.

Medicinally, the aromatic basil has a strengthening, antispasmodic, warming, fever-lowering and digestive effect. That is why it is recommended in naturopathy for febrile illnesses, indigestion, cramps, migraines, insomnia, anxiety and exhaustion. Applied externally, the essential oils are said to relieve insect bites.

In addition to its numerous uses, basil has a high ornamental value in gardens. Lush and long-lasting abundance of flowers are ecologically valuable for insects and flatter the gardener's eye. When mixed with vegetables, the aromas should keep various pests away.

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Which location is suitable for basil?

All types and varieties of basil are exclusively warm and sun-loving. In order to grow the aromatic herbs successfully at home or in the garden, a place in the sun is necessary. Shady locations are less suitable because basil is sensitive to coolness and moisture. Both the bed and a pot or box on the balcony offer good conditions for healthy growth.

The earth should be permeable, quickly warmable and sufficiently fertile. Heavy wet soils are not suitable for basil culture. Special herb soil is recommended for pots and boxes. It offers more permeability and ensures better drainage. This is very important because basil gets sick quickly from wet feet.

How is basil planted?

Before cultivation, a distinction must be made whether you want to cultivate annual or perennial basil varieties. The best known and most common is the annual basil (Ocimum basilicum), of which there are other varieties (e.g. lemon basil, Thai basil or cinnamon basil). As a rule, after the last danger of frost, they are sown directly in the bed from mid-May or grown in a protected culture (cold frame or greenhouse) from mid-April. When sowing, make sure that there is enough space between the individual plants. Too close distances can lead to fatal fungal infestation in cool, humid weather. A larger distance ensures better ventilation and faster drying of the floor surface. The same applies to sowing basil seeds in pots and bowls under glass. Too small gaps can be remedied by separating (pricking out). Pre-grown young plants are planted in the prepared bed after the ice saints. At the same time, it is advisable to apply snail repellants. The voracious pests love basil more than anything and can wreak havoc on the young plants in just one night.

Mid-May is also a good planting date for perennial basil varieties that have grown in popularity in recent years. Mostly they are woody basil bushes. In their culture they are quite robust, are rarely attacked by snails and are attractive to humans and insects as lush flowering bushes.

If the basil is to be kept in the pot, the herb can be planted earlier. Pots and tubs with basil plants are mobile and can be brought into a warm house for a short time if there is a risk of frost.

How is basil properly cared for?

Basil is very warm-loving. With a place in the sun, the most important growth requirement is fulfilled. In addition to regular watering, basil can be fertilized lightly. If the soil is not too barren, it is sufficient to mix in horn shavings or herbal fertilizers. Experienced herb gardeners pinch out the shoot tips to increase branching in the shoot. This can significantly improve the yield. The pinched out shoot tips can either be used immediately in the kitchen or rooted as cuttings in a water glass. After a few days, the first roots have formed and the young basil plant is transplanted into the soil.

How to properly water basil

Watering can be a difficulty in maintenance. As a heat-loving plant, basil cannot handle cold, wet feet. Too much moisture in the root area quickly has a damaging effect, particularly in pot culture. The reason for this is a wilt fungus that clogs the basil's water-carrying ducts at the base of the stem. Despite the damp soil, the herb does not get any more water delivered to the shoot and shows wilting. The phenomenon is known as tipping sickness. More water is poured intuitively and the plant is given the fatal blow. Regular but moderate watering is the ideal compromise. The soil moisture should be felt with your finger before watering.

Greater fluctuations in humidity should also be avoided in basil culture. If drought and humidity alternate too often, a root fungus can damage the outer skin of the roots and cause the plant to die. More about watering basil.

How is basil properly overwintered?

Only perennial types and varieties of basil are suitable for wintering. Often “persistent” or “perennial” is confused with hardy. As already mentioned, every basil likes warmth and in our part of the world is not nearly frost hardy. A year-round culture in the garden is therefore ruled out. Persistent or perennial refers to the perennial life cycle.

For annual basil, the life cycle ends with the flowering or the subsequent ripening of the seeds. Perennial basil actually has a chance of getting the herb over the winter. In the case of basil, however, this is not so easy. A light, moderately warm location and a lot of dexterity when watering allow overwintering. Cutting back in autumn reduces the amount of leaves on the plant and can also be used as a herb harvest. Hibernating rooted cuttings has proven to be a little easier. The young basil herbs are not as sensitive as older specimens.

How do you harvest basil?

Almost all parts of the plant are strongly aromatic. The entire shoot, including flowers and seeds, are suitable for use as herbs. Normally, shoot tips are clipped or plucked from the basil plant. De-sharpening promotes the branching of the plant and extends the lifespan of annual basil species. Plucking off individual leaves is less advisable, as this will cause the shoots to bald. Bald shoots can be cut back to the point of lignification, provided that shoot buds can be seen in the leaf axils below. More about harvesting basil.

Can you freeze basil?

When preserving the basil aroma, freezing is the best option. The freshness and the flavors are retained quite well. Leaves and shoots are cleaned with clear water and chopped into small pieces. In frost-proof cans, the aromatic plant parts can be preserved in the freezer for several weeks to months.

How do you properly dry basil?

Basil is not as easy to preserve as other herbs by drying. At home, you hardly have the gentle drying to preserve the intense aroma. The oils are volatile and most of them are lost when drying.

Basil FAQ

What uses can basil have?

Basil is used in a variety of ways in fresh kitchens. Pizza, pasta, pesto or Mediterranean dishes often contain the distinctive basil aroma. It can also be used for herbal oils, salts or vinegars.

How can you protect basil from pests?

The worst enemy of basil in the garden bed culture are the snails. Regular reading or special snail preparations provide a little protection.

What types of basil are there?

A distinction is made between annual and perennial types of basil. The classic basil with its soft green leaves is one of the annual types of basil. The perennial basilica includes the African bush basil ('African Blue'), which impresses with its robustness, abundance of flowers and wonderful aroma.

What is the effect of basil?

Basil not only spices, but also stimulates human health. In folk medicine, basil is considered a digestive, antispasmodic, fever lowering, relieving migraine, insomnia and exhaustion.