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Basil leaves are fragrant and flavorful, and you can use them in salads, on sandwiches or as a seasoning for your favorite pasta dish. Grow basil outside in your garden, in containers on your patio or inside your home. Consider starting your basil plants from seed before transplanting to your garden or containers. Basil grows as an annual outdoors, but can thrive year-round inside your home.
Fill your seed pots with potting soil, up to a half-inch from the rim of the pot. Your pots should have good drainage.
Place two or three basil seeds in each pot and cover them lightly with an eighth-inch layer of compost. Press the compost firmly into place. Water the seeds.
Place the pots under grow lights or in direct sunlight for at least eight hours each day. The seeds should germinate in about a week. When the seedlings have developed two pairs of true leaves, you can thin out the plants, leaving the strongest in each pot.
Transfer grown basil plants to larger containers or into your garden well after the threat of frost has passed. If you like, you can sow the seeds directly into the garden after the last frost. Remove the weeds and rake compost into your soil one month before sowing the seeds. Make sure to select a sunny location and to thin out the young plants the same as you would if you were growing basil in containers.
Water the basil plants at soil level, avoiding the leaves and the stems. Pinch away any flowers as they appear, so the nutrients will be directed toward leaf growth and your basil will be more flavorful.
Harvest the basil by picking out the tops. The more often you harvest your basil, the better it is for the plant and the better it will grow.
Move your basil plants back inside before the first fall frost. Keep them in a sunny location or use grow lights during the winter, and you can enjoy this flavorful herb all year.