How to Care for Sweet Basil

Sweet Basil

Growing Sweet Basil

Parsley and cilantro might be high-ranking contestants when it comes to the most commonly grown herb, but sweet basil almost always steals the top spot! There’s a good reason for it, too. It is a tender, fragrant, and flavorful herb that is a prized addition to many cuisines. If you’ve never planted this popular garden herb, then there couldn’t be a better time than now! In this gardening guide, we’ll walk through the basics of how to care for this plant. Pesto, bruschetta, and margarita pizzas are right around the corner once you’ve mastered the easy art of how to care for this herb.

Basic Necessities

When it comes to growing sweet basil, there’s no “green thumb” required in order to be successful! In fact, you don’t even have to have any previous gardening experience to grow a bountiful crop. As long as you keep the following necessities at hand, you’ll always have plenty of basil to go around. Here are some basic tips to grow sweet basil.

  • Full Sun – As far as this basil is concerned, the more sunlight, the better! Although basil will tolerate a slight degree of partial shade, it will do best when grown in an area that receives at least 6-8 hours of full sun daily. For basil that is to be grown indoors, aim for at least 30 watts of full spectrum lighting for each plant. Indoor plants will need more light than outdoor plants, so plan on providing at least 10-12 hours of uninterrupted light.
  • Well Draining & Fertile Soil – Although sweet basil could be grown in less than ideal soils, you’ll find that maximum growth and plant health will be achieved in fertile soils. Not only does the ideal soil contain a wealth of composted organics, it will also provide plenty of drainage. For basil that will be planted in the ground, prepare garden beds a month in advance by working compost into the topsoil. Container basil plants will thrive with a high quality organic potting soil that is amended with perlite for drainage.

Grow Sweet Basil from Seeds

While you could go to the store and purchase a plant, the best way to start your season is by growing basil from seeds. Not only will you be able to control ow your seedlings are looked after, you’ll save yourself the headache of over-planted containers of basil at the local garden center. Here’s a look at how to plant and grow sweet basil seeds:

  1. Begin planting sweet basil seeds 4-6 weeks before the date of the average last frost in your area.
  2. Fill seedling trays with fine potting soil or seedling mix.
  3. Place 2-3 seeds per seedling container. Cover the seeds with just the slightest amount of soil. The seeds need some light to germinate, but also need the moisture from the soil covering them!
  4. Water the seeds well, being careful not to flood the soil.
  5. Place in a brightly lit south facing windowsill, or allow to sit under artificial grow lights. Maintaining consistent moisture, your seeds should begin to sprout in 6-10 days.

Quick Guide for Growing Basil

4-6 Weeks Before the Average Last Frost DateThe Week of the Average Last Frost DateWeek After Average Last Frost Date
Begin sowing sweet basil seeds indoors.Harden off the basil plants.Transplant basil plants outdoors permanently.

Thinning, Transplanting, and Growing

Provided you had successful seed germination, there should be at least a couple of young basil seedlings per cup. Continue to provide moisture and let them grow until they’ve reached a size where two sets of true leaves are present. At this time, gently pull or cut weak plants at the soil line in each cup. Thin so that only the strongest basil seedling remains in each seed cup.

  1. Once the sweet basil seedlings have been thinned, return to your regular water and lighting regimen for the next couple of days before transplanting. This short resting time will provide the basil seedlings a recovery period from any root damage that may have been caused during thinning.
  2. At this point, the basil seedlings may be transplanted into a container double the original size.
  3. Continue to house them indoors until the week of the average last frost arrives. At such time, the plants may begin the process of hardening off.
  4. After completion of hardening off, the sweet basil plants may be permanently planted into their final location or container.
  5. In its final location, sweet basil will need little maintenance. Just water and weed as needed. Your basil will appreciate a soil that is kept consistently moist, but never waterlogged. A good tip is to water only once the top 1.5 inches of soil have become dry.


Sweet basil leaves may be harvested any time throughout the season, and should actually be done so quite often to promote new growth. To harvest the leaves, pinch off new growth at the nodes. Pinching is preferred over cutting with scissors as it causes less stress to the plants. In either case, be sure to remove growth and leaves as close to the stem as possible. This good practice will reduce the potential for disease and keep plants healthy for continued production. At the end of the season, basil will begin to flower. The plants can be left to complete flowering for seed collection, or the flowers removed for continued leaf production. We highly recommend pruning the flowers!

Final Word

Caring for sweet basil is like riding a bicycle! Once you’ve learned the process, you’ll never forget it! Realizing that there’s a bunch of gardeners well versed in growing this herb, I’d like to welcome you to share any unique tips or tricks that have been successful for you. Thanks for reading, and happy gardening!

If you enjoyed this article, you’ll for sure want to have a look through these other great gardening guides.

Ten Mistakes New Herb Gardeners Make


Growing your own herbs can be very rewarding and enjoyable, but a few little things can make it frustrating as well. Learn the ten mistakes new herb gardeners often make and how you can avoid them. for ultimate garden success this year!

Mistake 1: Growing from seed without the right environment. While there is something special about starting a plant from seed and watching it grow, a lot can go wrong when starting from seeds. Seeds require a proper environment for germinating and being kept growing indoors before it’s time to plant outside. Always check if your seeds can be grown in your country and environment first. Does your herb seed grow in warm environments? Should you sow directly onto the soil first? Always check before sowing your seeds.

Mistake 2: Too complex, too early. While it’s always nice to grow what your love, you must also understand your experience in gardening first. Don’t set yourself for disappointment by choosing difficult to grow herb seeds. Rosemary can be tricky to grow while basil is wonderful for beginnners. We often recommend basil as your first herb plant as it’s a quick grower and it bounces back really well when not watered enough. This flexibility allows you to figure things out with a plant that can take a little abuse. The fact basil is so versatile on recipes and a well-loved herb is yet another added benefit.

Mistake 4: Choosing the wrong soil. A well-prepped garden with fresh soil can go along way. Using soil that is tired, with no nutrients left to offer you herbs isn’t conducive to success. Old soil aren’t good for herbs as the soil tend to lack nutrients and are littered with old root cuttings. Use the right potting mix wins your half the battle. In pots, avoid garden soil, yes you heard correct, avoid garden soils like topsoil or black earth! These soils are heavy and take forever to dry out after a rain. Using a potting soil or peat moss will be lighter and fluffier, perfect for herb growing.

Mistake 3: You mean there’s more than one kind of mint? As in life, it’s important to read carefully when choosing your herbs. When you shop for groceries, there’s no such thing as ‘just an apple’ there are many varieties available to you, same goes for selecting herbs. We’ve got plenty of thyme, no seriously, we actually have lots of different varieties of thyme; creeping thyme, silver thyme, lemon thyme, upright thyme, to name a few. When selecting herbs with multiple options available to you, know the flavour your looking to get and pick correctly. Otherwise you could want to make mojitos and grab apple mint instead of spearmint by mistake.

Mistake 5: Prevent a garden invasion! Some herbs provide complimenting flavours to our food but forget their manners when planted in your garden. Herbs like mint and oregano are voracious growers and get down right aggressive (even invasion) in a garden. To keep the rest of your garden plot safe, consider growing these herbs in pots and burying them in the ground. The added measure of control a pot puts on the roots of these herbs can keep them from moving in to the rest of your garden and prompting taking over. Of course the surest way to protect your garden from this threat is to grow them in pots grown above ground.

Mistake 6: Watering herbs like houseplants. There are a lot of differences between indoors and outdoors and those differences make growing plants outside very different than indoors. While herbs and house plants inside might do flourish with a good watering once a week, that just won’t cut it for plants left in the garden. Most herbs will require moderate and regular watering’s, especially in the hot summer months. If you’re growing in pots, make sure the pot has adequate drainage; this will prevent your herbs from drowning after a long rainy period. The downside with growing in pots is your herbs will need even more water than if they’re planted in the ground.

Mistake 7: Letting it all grow out. Knowing when to give your herbs a hair cut can be difficult to judge but do it early and often. Trimming one branch of a herb in the right place will lead to more growing in its place. It’s a good practice to prune in V’s (take a shoot just after two smaller ones) and the others will grow in larger. The cut stem won’t grow any further, almost like a signal to your plant that it can grow that way. You can start trimming when your plant grows to 3-4” above the soil (making sure there are still some good leaves left behind), this will give you a sturdy base to grow on. As your herb grows back you can prune it every 3-4” of new growth, pruning back to with a couple inches of your last cut. After a few prunings, you will find your harvest yielding enough to fill out a recipe!

An added benefit to a good pruning, aside from increased yield, is a more compact and well-kept plant. Herbs that aren’t pruned can grow tall and top heavy, a pruned herb is shorter and denser. Basil is a great plant to experiment with pruning but you’ll find most plants (like annual flowers) will benefit from a good pruning too. Keep in mind, not all herbs are alike and some respond faster to pruning than others.

Mistake 8: Bigger isn’t always better. When harvesting your herbs it’s better to pick off the biggest leaves and leave the tender new ones, right? Wrong!  It may seem counter productive but there are reason behind the madness of harvesting the new growth. First, those large older leaves are powering your herbs growth acting like big solar panels feeding the new growth up top. Removing lower leaves just leaves you with a tall skinny plant that won’t support it’s own growth. Second, remembering mistake 7 (let it all grow out), we want to take our harvest from leaves plucked up top and further proper pruning, the fact new leaves taste better is an added benefit. Don’t forget to pluck above a V so new growth will replace the leaves you harvest.

Mistake 9: Flowers are not welcome at this party! Now, if you’re following the advice about pruning and proper plucking, hopefully this mistake is not an issue you deal with. Flowers are pretty and lovely to see on our annuals or perennials, on herbs, they’re normally a sign of nothing good. Unless your growing something for its edible flowers, you should be cutting back herbs before they start growing flowers. Many people often note their sweet basil turns bitter in the middle of the summer and this is because the flowers ruin the flavour. Adding to that the fact herbs will focus all their energy on flowering and neglect growing the leaves, you are advised to clear the budding flowers. Keep cutting off flower buds if you find them and it will keep your herb focused on growing leaves.

Mistake 10: Bring another herb (or 5) into your bed. So things have been going really well with that special herb or two and things seem to great, which is why it’s time to spice things up and bring another herb (or five) into your bed. Variety is the spice of life and the more herbs you grow, the more flavour your food can have. For any foodie, this is a no brainer. Think of what you like to cook with and try adding it to your garden. Grown basil and had success? Why not try some rosemary, mint, oregano and thyme! We mentioned the many varieties available in herbs (mistake 3), so if you liked spearmint and had success with it, perhaps you can try growing chocolate mint. Add a pop of colour to your plate with purple leafed basil or a hint of citrus with lemon thyme. Just remember that like people, herbs respond differently to the care you give them. Most importantly, enjoy the experience of growing the herbs you’ll use for cooking at home and have fun, success is sure to follow!

10 Amazing Tips When Starting Your Own Vegetable Garden

Vegetable Garden

A home garden is a great way to have fresh produce always on hand. Starting your own home garden may sound daunting, but don’t worry—it’s easy if you take it one step at a time.

If it’s your first time growing your own vegetables, these vegetable gardening tips will help you get started.

  1. Choose a sunny spot for your garden. Most vegetables grow best when exposed to full sun, but some do require shade, especially during the hotter months. Note how the sunlight hits your prospective space throughout the day, and ensure that it gets six to eight hours of full sun per day.
  2. Determine your garden’s size. It’s important to give your vegetables enough room to root and grow. If you have your own backyard with enough land for a full garden, take advantage of the space, and consider building raised beds. For smaller areas, square foot gardening—a method of dividing your garden into even square sections—can help you maximize your space. If you live in an apartment with a balcony or windows with plenty of direct sunlight, consider growing a small garden in planters or containers.
  3. Select your vegetables. Different vegetables have different growing seasons; choose which ones to plant depending on the time of year. Geography is also a factor, so consult a growing guide to find each vegetable’s optimal growing time in your region. Many common vegetables like eggplant, sweet potatoes, and zucchini are warm-season crops. Leafy greens like spinach, rhubarb, and chard grow in cooler months, as do brassicas like kale, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kohlrabi.
  4. Consider companion planting. Companion plants are vegetables you can plant near each other in order to deter pests, attract beneficial insects, and stimulate growth. Not all vegetables are suitable for companion planting—some vegetables may grow well near some plants but not others. Before planting at random, research which vegetables grow best in close proximity. Vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, and radishes all have their own companion plants.
  5. Find high-quality seeds. Invest in good heirloom seeds, hybrid seeds, or open-pollinated seeds (or save your own seeds) that are less prone to disease and known to produce lush plants. Your local grocery store or garden center should carry these types of seeds. You can also look online to buy organic and non-GMO seeds.
  6. Invest in good soil. There are six types of garden soil: sand, silt, clay, peat, chalk, and loam (which is actually a blend of sand, silt, and clay). Most vegetables grow best in loamy soil. The ideal soil ratio for vegetable garden loam is approximately 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and 20 percent clay. Consider adding mulch, compost, or other organic matter to your garden to improve your vegetables’ health.
  7. Add compost to your soil. Compost contains fungi, bacteria, and minerals that are beneficial to plants. It promotes strong immunity in your plants and expands the life of your crops.
  8. Use a natural or organic pesticide. Pests that prey on your vegetables are inevitable. For bugs, use a noninvasive pesticide or insecticidal soap. Companion plants like rosemary repel certain unwanted insects, and others like dill and parsley attract predators that hunt common pests. To deter larger animals, surround the perimeter of your garden with a fence or net.
  9. Make weeding part of your routine. Every morning when you check on your garden, take a look to see where weeds are growing. You’ll want to pull them before the afternoon, while the soil is still damp and the weeds are easy to remove. You can buy a pair of weed cutters, but ultimately your hands are the best tool for removing weeds.
  10. Keep a diary. Invest in a garden planner and track your vegetables’ progress. Note when and where you planted your vegetables, whether or not pests are interfering, and any pertinent details to the development and health of your crops. You’ll want to be as detailed as possible when logging information about your garden.

How to Grow Coriander Cilantro from Seeds

Grow Coriander from Seeds

Coriander Cilantro has a long history of being used as a digestive aid and used as a culinary spice across the world. Not only does it act as an anti-food poisoning agent, it also adds colour and fresh flavour to your food. With simple techniques, coriander can be grown in the comfort of a balcony next to other herbs or plants. The numerous benefits of this herb make it our perfect pick to grow at home and share with friends and family!

Coriander herb has bright green leaves and flat and thin stem. It has a pungent smell, similar to onions when fresh and lighter smell once dried. Coriander leaves make a showy display with its bright green leaves and little flowers. In the garden, the herb grows brilliant next to basil.

Coriander herb can be grown indoors under a wide range of climatic conditions. However, hot weather during the summer months causes coriander to bolt quickly and reduces foliage development. A coriander crop will mature in 40 to 45 days. It is often used as a rotation crop. Some growers double-crop in a given year.

With that said, let’s see how you can grow coriander from seeds!

How to plant Coriander herb

Growing coriander at home is the best way to have ready access to this fresh herb. You can buy pure, heirloom and non-GMO coriander seeds online here. Sow coriander seeds indoors in late winter or early spring. For a flavoursome and lush, leafy coriander crop, follow the following simple steps as you plant the herb.

Step 1:

Pick a spot for your container that exposes the plant to run for at least four to five hours. Prefer exposing the plant to morning sun as it enjoys a lot of light but not too much heat.

Pre-soak the seeds overnight. Space the seeds 3 to 4 inches apart while sowing in the container. You can also sprout the seeds before sowing.

Coriander crop thrives well in temperatures between 17° to 27°C. Coriander is best sown directly in pots rather than growing them in seed trays and then transplanting the sprouts.

Step 2:

You can grow coriander in full sun and well-drained soil with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. Sow the coriander seeds about half to one inch deep in the soil. Space the seeds at a gap of approximately 6 inches. Press the soil over the seeds and cover with the half-inch layer of fine mulch. Water thoroughly.

Step 3:

Water the plants in dry periods. Be sure to not over-water the plant to avoid root rot. Good soil drainage is essential to ensure healthy root health as coriander has deep taproots.

Step 4:

Germination of coriander takes up to 2-3 weeks. Remember to thin young plants to 20 cm apart to allow them to grow to their full size. To extend the coriander harvest, regularly snip soft stems, rotating the plant while you harvest.

How to Care for Coriander

If you want to grow coriander, do note that coriander prefers cool weather similar to spinach and lettuce alike. It can be grown in partial sun as the herb does not demand full soon.

  • Avoid transplanting or repotting the germinated seeds and prefer starting from the seeds straight. This will help you avoid bolting.
  • The key to growing healthy coriander herb is regular and steady watering. Remember to mulch to keep the soil surface cool.
  • For a steady supply, we suggest planting small patches every 2-3 weeks throughout the growing season.

Harvesting Coriander Herb

Coriander can be harvested when the plant has become six inches tall. At this height, the leaves of the herb will be tender and least bitter. The stems tend to be more pungent as compared to the leaves. Cut the gentle stems at soil level.