Basil is one of the easiest tropical herbs to grow from seeds, and all you need are:
- At least six hours of sun daily
- Temperature above 10 degrees Celsius night and day
- Fertile soil with good drainage
There are many types of basil you can grow in your vegetable garden. You can plant at least one type of basil in every container or bed.
Here are the most common types of basil to grow at home.
Types of Basil
1. Sweet Basil
This type of basil is probably the most common one as it is used in pesto, salads, and marinades. Sweet basil is a medium green plant with round leaves. It can also be used to repel mosquitoes.
2. Cinnamon Basil
Cinnamon basil has a pleasant fragrance and spicy flavour. This variety can grow up to 76 centimetres, and it has dark-purple stems and flowers with small leaves. It is used for fresh arrangements in fruit salads and as garnishes.
3. Lemon Basil
If you like citrus, you should grow lime basil. It grows great in containers as well as vegetable gardens. What most of us love about this type of basil is the intense citrus aroma and flavour it has.
This plant can grow up to 45 centimetres and it has large leaves. You can use it in teas, lemonades, cocktails, or just to flavour water. It can also be added to salads, or cook with chicken and fish.
4. Genovese Basil
This basil variety has large dark green leaves. Genovese is the Italian basil, and it is great to add flavor to pestos and pasta. This type of basil is different from sweet basil because Genovese leaves are flatter. You can also distinguish true Genovese basil because it has a stronger aromatic flavour.
5. Dark Opal Basil
If you want to add colour to your vegetable garden, you must grow dark opal basil. It is great for dried arrangements and wreaths. This type of basil is beautiful and gives a spicy flavour to salads, pesto, pasta or bruschetta.
This variety can grow up to 50 centimetres in height with purple stems, flowers, and leaves.
How to Grow Basil
As aforementioned, basil is one of the easiest tropical herbs to grow at home. As Malaysia is a tropical country, you can grow basil all year round because all you need is moist soil, the sun and water.
It is better to grow basil from seeds, and you can easily buy them online or in your favourite store. You can start the seeds indoors for approximately 6 weeks before planting them outside.
Remember, this tropical herb likes warm weather so it will grow better if the temperature is around 21° Celsius. Without heat, the basil won’t grow well.
Vegetable Gardening Tips and Hacks for Beginners
- Place the basil in a location that gets at least 6 hours of full sun every day. Keep in mind, that this herb can grow well in partial sun, too.
- Basil will grow better in rich soil. Remember the soil should be moist but well-drained.
- You can easily grow basil in containers or raised beds.
- If you are growing basil for cooking, make sure that you plant them in clean soil, and don’t use insecticides. Also, it is better to grow them away from driveways and streets to avoid contamination.
- It is a good idea to grow basil and tomatoes together, as they are great neighbours in the vegetable garden and on the plate.
To plant basil, you need to place the seeds about 0.60 centimetres deep and 25 centimetres apart. Remember, basil can grow up to about 60 centimetres in height.
If the basil variety you have is larger, plant them farther apart about 40 to 60 centimetres.
Important Things To Remember
- During the dry periods, water the plants regularly.
- To have more leaves for harvest, do the following: after the seeds have produced six leaves, cut away to above the second set. Repeat this process every time the branches produce six to eight leaves.
- Cut the flowers if they grow too early.
Finally, start picking the leaves of basil when they are 15 to 20 centimetres tall. Remember to harvest when the leaves are at their juiciest i.e., in the early morning.
You can store basil easily by freezing it. When you freeze the plant, the flavour remains. Alternatively, you can dry the basil by placing the leaves in a well-ventilated and dark area. The leaves will dry after 3 to 4 days.