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It’s time to sow basil…

Save yourself some money this summer and enjoy your own homegrown basil. One packet of seeds will grow probably more basil than you will need (don’t worry, you can freeze the excess to use through the colder months), yet costs only a little more than a plastic pot of the herb from the supermarket which lasts a couple of weeks at best. Plus you can enjoy every last flavoursome leaf knowing it has been grown without any nasty chemicals or single-use plastic packaging!

Sow

In small pots filled with a peat-free multipurpose compost. Water and leave in a warm, light place.

Grow

Once the plants have germinated, keep the pot on a sunny windowsill or greenhouse but with some protection from full sun. Basil grows best indoors in a temperate climate. The plant needs protection from cold and is really a summer into early autumn herb.

Water regularly to keep compost moist but not soggy. The plants grow best when the compost has had time to dry out a bit before evening, so try to remember to water in the morning. Add a liquid feed to the water once a week when the plant is in full growth.

Pot up into a larger pot as needed.

Harvest

Pinch off the leaves as needed – taking the top growth from a stem encourages it to bush out and produce more leaves.

Potential problems

Seedlings can rot off if the compost is kept too damp – water sparingly. The plants can attract aphids, but these are easily washed off under a gently running tap. As the plant ages the leaves can become tougher and flower stems appear. Sow more seed to replace the older plant, but before you consign it to the compost heap try eating the basil flowers… they are delicious!

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