The first rule of gardening is to be COOL, and to do
that, you never pronounce the word "herb" with an "h"! You ignore the "h" and
just say "erb."
kidding: but actually, you want to sound really smart about gardening, you
should pronounce garden terms correctly. Everybody will be amazed at how COOL
you are, to know so much about our friends, the plants.
basil (pronounced BA sill) is an herb that everybody loves to grow, because it
is just so important in flavoring some of our favorite foods.
you like pizza? Spaghetti? Pasta of all kinds? Then you probably know, or will
recognize, the wonderful scent and taste of basil. It's a really common herb
that goes beautifully when grown with - and cooked with - tomatoes and peppers
hates the cold, so in most parts of the country, you have to grow it as an
annual plant, that won't come back from year to year. Most people start seeds
indoors several weeks before the last possible chance of frost, and transplant
the basil outside into the garden when the spring days and nights are both
pretty warm, usually in late May.
are some baby basil plants, started as seeds under indoor lights in early
This is 'way too many seedlings in each "cell" of the
seed-starting flat. The seed packet cost $1.29 and was two years old, so the
kids thought they'd better max out on the seeds this year, because they weren't
sure they would still be good next year.
They needn't have worried! It looks like every single
these seedlings develop their first set of true leaves and stand about 1" tall,
it will be time to give each seedling its own "temporary" home before being
you have a booth at a Farmers Market, a very popular spring item in May is a
4-pack of basil seedlings, ready to be planted in the customer's garden. Basil
seedlings should be at least 4" to 6" tall to be fragrant, sturdy and ready for
basil ready to sell or plant in the garden is a two-step process: you start the
seeds under lights, and then you transplant the seedlings into their own homes
once they're tall enough.
seedlings in this picture are 'way too crowded. Of course it would be easier to
transplant these tiny seedlings into individual cells if they were started more
scarcely, with just one or two seeds to the start-up cell.
it can be done, without killing most, or any, in the process. The roots may be
entangled, but if you make sure to water the cells the day before so that the
soil is moist, you should be able to coax them apart easily.
you have to do is take a teaspoon and lift each clump of seedlings up and out
of the cell. Don't touch them with your fingers, or you're likely to smash
them. Use a rounded-end toothpick or a craft stick to separate each seedling.
Then transplant into individual cells (6-packs, perhaps?) with moist, organic
can place these separated seedlings back under lights, or harden them off by
leaving them on a back porch for a day or two, then in the shade outside for a
day or two, and then in a place where they will get maybe an hour or two of
direct but gentle direct sun for a day or two, and then give them full sun for
a week or two 'til you transplant into their final garden destination.
main thing to remember in growing basil is to keep the plants well watered, and
"side dress," or add handfuls, of compost around each stem about every two
buds and flowers appear on your basil plants, pinch them off. That will put all
the energy into the leaves, which is the product that you want to develop.
harvest, cut about 6" to 8" off the top of the plant, and bunch several
together and tie with raffia. You should immerse the stems in water, like a
bouquet. Do not refrigerate - that will turn the leaves black. Keep the basil
out of the sun once it's cut, so it doesn't wilt.
can root more basil plants simply by cutting some leaves from your early crop
and placing thenm in water to get roots to grow. When roots are about 2" long,
transplant them back into the garden and keep well-watered 'til the plants
start to grow.
to consider for a kids' garden club money-making idea:
basil tastes soooo much better than dried basil, that fresh basil is in high
demand during the fall, winter and spring months, when it doesn't grow outside.
if you are looking for a year-round money-maker, and have an indoor light
system set up for your garden club, consider growing and selling basil! It
might be the most valuable plant, per pound, that you could have for sale in
the out-of-season months.
your customers that basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes and peppers.
Its strong scent scares off harmful bugs! And when you make pasta sauce,
there's nothing like fresh basil to bring out the flavors of the tomatoes and