New World Little Gardens

basil pattern
basil

Basil

Ocimum basilicum

Basil will be a star in your summer herb garden! And your homegrown tomatoes will have a perfect partner. Basil loves heat and won’t survive outside if it’s too cold, so plant inside and don’t move into the garden until Labour Weekend at the earliest.

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Getting started

  • Put the soil tablet on a saucer and pour 50ml of water over it.
  • Put on gloves and mix the water into the soil with your hands to make a wet mixture. Watch the soil expand.
  • Use most of your soil to fill up the pot to around 2cm below the top.
  • Now place your seed mat on top of the soil (take care not to press down too hard).
  • Now use the rest of your soil mixture to cover the seed mat.
  • Remember to wash your hands when you’re done.

How to keep your Little Garden healthy

  • Place the pot on a clean saucer in a place with enough light, but not directly in the sun.
  • Check the soil in the morning, and before bed. If the soil feels dry and crumbly, pour a small amount of clean water over the surface.
  • Within 1 week you should see a little plant appear from the soil. That means the seeds have germinated and will be ready soon to move into a bigger pot or garden.
  • If more than one little plant grows, you can thin your basil seedling by choosing the strongest-looking one and removing the others.

When your seedling is ready to go in the garden

  • When your basil is as tall as your hand and it’s warm outside (no risk of frost), it’s ready to move into the garden.
  • Get your basil used to life outside: You can harden off your basil seedling by putting it in a warm and sheltered spot for 1-2 hours a day and return inside for the night. Do this for 4-5 days, leaving it outside for a little longer each day before you shift it out into the garden forever.

Planting best practice

Look after your plant while it’s growing

  • Basil is thirsty. Water it regularly, especially if it’s growing in a pot. You want the soil to stay moist but not wringing wet. If left in dry soil, it will wilt or go straight to seed, and that means no tasty leaves!
  • As soon as flower buds appear, you can thin your basil by removing the flower buds them with a gentle pinch. Don’t let the basil grow flowers, as this will reduce the growth of edible leaves. If your plant does flower, it will be loved by bees and butterflies, but may not make the tastiest leaves for you. 

Harvest time

  • A couple of months after you plant your basil outside it should be bushy with stems and leaves, and you can start harvesting a few leaves every now and again. Regular picking will encourage your basil to produce more leaves. 
  • Thin your basil by pinching off the branch tips, to help keep your plant bushy and lush.

Watch out

  • Basil is relatively pest-free.
  • Slugs and snails will nibble on young plants, so create your own pest protection, lay out bait or pick off these slimy pests.
  • Aphids can be a problem, particularly if the plant is kept too dry. Check for these pests frequently; squash them with your fingers or blast them off with the hose as soon as you notice them. Don’t let these guys get comfy on your plants.

Basil in your gardens