Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is a sweet tasting, annual herb that is used to flavor a variety of foods including meats, sauces and breads. It is possible to start basil inside and move the seedlings when the weather warms, but the plants do not always do well after their roots have been disturbed. The most foolproof way to plant basil outdoors is by sowing the seeds directly into the ground after all danger of frost has passed.
Remove all grass, weeds and large rocks from the planting site. Use a garden fork to loosen the soil to a depth of 5 to 6 inches. Amend the soil with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic compost.
Sprinkle the basil seeds across the planting site and cover with a 1/8-inch layer of soil. Water until the soil is moist, taking care not to bury the seeds too deeply. Continue to water the seeds anytime the soil looks dry. Seedlings should start to appear within five to 10 days.
Thin the seedlings, leaving 9 to 12 inches of space between each plant.
Water the basil seedlings whenever the top inch of the soil feels dry to the touch. Add a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch when the plants have reached 3 to 4 inches tall.
Add an application of slow-release fertilizer once the seedlings have become established.