Basil is a sweet herb from the mint family that is used for flavoring foods. The plant produces fragrant leaves which can be used fresh or dried and small white or purple flowers which should be pinched off to increase the life span. Basil is tender and does not tolerate cold outdoor temperatures. The seeds can be grown indoors year round or started indoors four to six weeks prior to the outside transplanting date.
Fill 2-inch growing containers with a good-quality seed starting soil that has been moistened with water.
Sow the seeds by sprinkling the seeds on top of the soil in the 2-inch planting containers. Cover the seeds with a 1/4-inch layer of seed starting soil. Gently press the soil to hold the seeds in place and mist with water to settle the soil and seeds together.
Cover the containers with a clear plastic bag or wrap to create a greenhouse environment around the seeds. Set the containers in a location that is approximately 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and indirect light.
Monitor the growing containers to prevent the soil from drying out. Mist the soil with water as needed during the germination process.
Remove the plastic covering once the seedlings appear. This will take approximately four to seven days. Move the containers to a south-facing window with direct sunlight. Turn the containers every two to three days to keep the plants growing straight.
Place the containers in a sink filled with 2 inches of water so the plants can pull water through the bottom drainage holes. Fertilize the plants with a liquid balanced fertilizer mixed at half rate.
Thin the plants once they reach a height of 2 inches and have two pairs of true leaves. Snip off all the plants that are spindly looking, keeping the strongest stems. Prune tall plants by pinching off the growing top to promote branching for a compact plant.