Now Sowing: Basil (March–August)

About Basil

Common Name: Basil (Ocimum Basilicum) 

Seed Saving Level: Advanced


Basil likes 6-8 hours of sunlight and well-drained soil. Plant seeds and seedlings 6-10” apart, cover with ¼” of soil. Germinates in 5-7 days. After  6 wks of growth, pinch the tip from the center shoot to force side growth and prevent early flowering. Snip flowers to continue growth. Basil likes deep watering every 4-7 days to ensure the roots are receiving adequate moisture. Container-grown plants will dry out faster. Protect from frost to survive winter.


Begin harvesting after plants are 6-8” tall by snipping fresh young leaves as needed. When harvesting whole stems, cut just above a pair of leaves. New growth is encouraged at cut point.


Hang upside down in small bunches and air dry for a week or so. Once dried, strip the leaves from the stems and store whole or ground in an air-tight container away from heat and light.

Seed Saving

Let flower stalks dry on the stem. Clip and lay on a paper plate or towel and let dry for a couple of days. Crush stalks between your fingers to drop seeds. Use a fine sieve. To de-chafe more, put the remains in a small bowl and "swirl and blow."

Books and ebooks


Recipe: Pesto


  • ¾ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts or toasted walnut pieces
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp to ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, as needed


Place the ¾ cup basil, garlic, and nuts in a food processor. Pulse a few times to chop the basil and nuts. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add the lemon juice. Slowly add the oil through the hole in the lid while the machine is running until a paste forms. Leftover pesto can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Source: Vegan Finger Foods (2014) by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes