Basil is one of the easiest herbs to grow. It is an annual and will need to be replanted every year. Basil grows well in containers or directly in the garden. It is a great companion plant for your tomatoes. It’s strong scent helps to deter the tomato hornworm and other pests and planting them together can enhance the taste of both crops. Some people believe that basil can even help to make tomatoes sweeter.
Tips for Growing Basil:
- Choose the right location: Basil prefers warm weather and plenty of sunlight. So, choose a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight and has well-draining soil.
- Planting basil: Basil can be planted from seeds or seedlings.
- Watering basil: Basil likes to be kept moist but not waterlogged. Water your basil regularly, preferably in the morning, to prevent water from sitting on the leaves overnight.
- Fertilizing basil: Basil benefits from regular fertilization. You can add compost or a balanced fertilizer every two weeks to promote healthy growth.
- Pruning basil: Pruning is important to encourage bushy growth and to prevent your basil from becoming too tall and leggy. Pinch the top of each stem when your basil plant reaches about 6 inches in height. This will encourage branching and bushier growth. Pinch off the flowers: Regularly pinching off any flower buds will encourage the basil plant to focus on producing more leaves instead of going to seed.
- Harvesting basil: Harvest the leaves regularly to promote new growth. You can start harvesting the leaves once your basil plant has several sets of leaves. Cut the leaves from the stem, leaving a few sets of leaves at the bottom of the stem to encourage regrowth.
With proper care, your basil plant should provide you with plenty of fresh leaves throughout the growing season.
Put all of those delicious basil leaves and the tomatoes growing alongside them to use by making a caprese salad. Caprese salad is a simple and delicious appetizer that originates from Italy. It’s made with fresh mozzarella, ripe tomatoes, and basil, and is usually seasoned with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Caprese Salad Appetizer
- 1 pound of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
- 4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 1/2 cup of fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Arrange the sliced mozzarella cheese and tomato on a platter, alternating between them.
- Tuck basil leaves in between the cheese and tomato slices.
- Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil over the top of the salad.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!