Basil is a spicy annual plant, which is well known to every person because it is used mainly in cooking. It grows in greenhouses and vegetable gardens in good conditions, so you should not even doubt whether it is possible to grow basil on a windowsill.
Growing basil in a city apartment will provide a family with healthy greenery for the whole year. This plant has been used as a diaphoretic and antipyretic agent for a long time, perfectly stimulating the immune system.
The color of basil leaves varies greatly, depending on the variety, but in any case, you will recognize it by its pleasant balsamic smell. The value of the leaves lies in the content of essential oils, and vitamins PP, B1, B2, and C.
Tea with basil leaves is recommended for colds and bronchitis. Of course, you can buy basil in the store, but it is much more interesting to grow it on your own since planting basil in a pot at home is very easy.
Ways to Grow Basil
a. Transplanting a plant from an open field into a pot
This is done if the plant has not yet completed its vegetative period (for example, it is cold in your region). In this case, an apartment is ideal. Remember that basil will delight you with its greenery, not more than 2-3 months.
To grow basil, transfer the bush with a lump of soil to a large, tall pot. The ground can be shaken off slightly. Keep the transplanted plant in the shade for several days, be sure to water it.
b. Growing with cuttings
In this case, you will collect fragrant leaves for a short time – 3-4 months. To grow the cuttings, cut off the branches at the base of the main stem.
Place the seedling in the water and wait for the roots to appear (about 1-2 weeks). Drop into the ground. In this case, the sprout may not take root. Therefore, it is better to plant several pieces at once in one pot.
c. Planting with seeds
Undoubtedly, planting seeds is the most extended and most troublesome method. But you can enjoy the harvest for almost 8-10 months and get the earliest harvest only after a month and a half.
Planting spices in pots for seedlings is carried out in late February and early March. Then it can be transplanted into a deeper container.
How to Grow Basil in Water
1. Variety selection
Of a large number of plant varieties, only a few are used for food. The best basil varieties for growing in water are considered not only spicy but also decorative leafy.
They will decorate the apartment, and the leaves can be added to various dishes. The most popular and unpretentious ones:
Yerevan – It is a plant with a pepper aroma with tea, a spicy taste, and blue-violet leaves
Lemon – This variety has a lemon aroma and light green leaves
Dwarf – It is a decorative spherical bush with a height of 10 to 20 cm. also, it has small purple or green leaves that have a spicy and aromatic taste
Clove – It has green leaves with a clove aroma and a tart taste
Marquis – This variety is a compact shrub with small foliage
Osmin – The type is distinguished by its small size and bronze-colored leaves, which can be eaten fresh or dried
Purple – It is large-leaved basil with purple leaves that have a purple hue. Essentially, it can be grown for food use and has a delicate taste
2. Seed preparation
This stage is optional but desirable if you want to speed up the first shoots’ appearance slightly. Soak the seeds in warm water for 1-2 days, changing the water every 12 hours or more often.
Then soak them in a little pink solution of potassium permanganate for 2 hours. Finally, dry the seeds on a napkin or gauze.
3. Soil preparation
If basil growing in water will occur in a ready-made universal soil mixture, then no preliminary soil preparation is required.
This is because the ready-made mixes already contain all the necessary fertilizers. The only thing left to do is place a drainage layer on the bottom of the container and then fill up the soil.
If the soil is taken directly from the garden, then before growing basil, it must be enriched with minerals. The ground intended for planting basil seeds should be light, fertile, and with an excellent permeable structure. Such soil can be prepared from the following components:
- Peat, humus, and earth in equal parts – All ingredients of the mixture must be mixed well
- Two parts humus and 1 part coconut fibers
- 1 part of humus, two parts of peat – Such a substrate must be supplemented with urea, superphosphate, and potassium sulfate
- Two parts soil and 1 part fresh compost
4. Sowing seeds
Before planting, basil seeds must be processed since they have a dense shell. The planting material is kept in a warm place, and the day before planting, it is soaked in warm water.
This is done for one or two weeks. Pots or boxes should have drainage holes. Their bottom is filled with drainage, on which the prepared soil should be poured.
The soil is moistened, and holes are made in it at a distance of 5 cm from each other. It is recommended to sow 2-3 seeds in each hole to a depth of 1 cm.
They are sprinkled with soil mixture and sprayed with warm water from a spray bottle. When the seedlings appear and grow a little, the weak ones are pinched and removed. As a result, one strong seedling will remain in the hole.
5. Temperature and lighting
Since basil loves warmth, the air temperature should not fall below +18 to 20 degrees; otherwise, it will slow down its growth and stop developing. Optimally, the temperature is kept within +22 to 25 degrees.
Lighting depends on the season. In the spring and summer, six-hour daylight is enough for the plant, and in winter, photo lamps are installed above the seedlings (by 20 cm), which provide additional lighting for 10-12 hours.
For normal development, basil in water requires an extension of daylight hours up to 15 hours. If it is impossible to create an optimal lighting regime, basil seeds are sown no earlier than February.
Watering is carried out as required, avoiding drying out and excessive moisture in the soil. Watering itself should be carried out with settled water at room temperature.
The regularity of moistening the soil directly depends on the temperature regime. The higher the temperature, the more often you water.
Similarly, basil growing at home needs high air humidity, and if the room is dry, then the plant’s foliage must be sprayed additionally. This is especially true in the cold period when central heating batteries are fried.
On hot days, place a pot of basil in a container filled with expanded clay and water. This will increase the evaporation of moisture and thus increase the humidity in the air.
7. Top dressing
You can fertilize basil once a month. Essentially, a formulation containing nitrogen is ideal. The chemical element stimulates the development of tops.
Two weeks after planting, apply fertilizer to the soil. It is recommended to use Nitrofoska at the rate of 2 tablespoons per 12 liters of water. Half an hour before the procedure, it is necessary to moisten the soil with settled water.
Harvesting of Basil
The key to getting fluffy and branched with lots of basil leaves is pruning frequently and early, also known as pinching. After 1-1.5 months, when the basil is overgrown with 4-6 real leaves, you must harvest the first crop by pinching off two leaves from the tops.
Further, when the basil acquires three sets of true leaves, pinch its top immediately. This is done by cutting off the stem just above the small leaves that are beginning to grow from the sinuses.
The procedure should be done every few weeks. When you need a few leaves to add to a dish or drink, select the older side leaves and pinch them off where they meet the main stem.
Remember that basil should always have at least four leaves at the bottom. If you prune the lower shoots, the basil will start to grow taller than wider and be less productive.
If you see a bud in bloom, immediately cut it off and the two leaves below it. If this is not done, the greens will start to deteriorate.
Basil is a versatile plant that goes well with fish and meat dishes. Add fresh spicy herbs to salads, marinades, sauces to add a unique taste and aroma.