I want to start with this – I’m no professional. This is what works for me. And this is the point I want you to understand, you have to find out what works for you. The only way to do that is to try something. Thomas Edison, when queried by a reporter about the seemingly incredible difficulties associate with his work on the lightbulb rebutted, “I have not failed 700 times. I’ve succeeded in proving 700 ways how not to build a lightbulb.”
We learn from failures. Success is simply the payoff that drives us. We need both to succeed in learning. So with that being said, in starting a new endeavor, is probably best to try something with a high likelihood of success. For gardening, I believe basil fits this bill.
Growing basil couldn’t be any easier than a pot, dirt, seeds, water, and sunlight. A window that gets morning light works just fine. So does a planter that only gets the evening sun. Partial shade all day also works. As does full sun all day. I know they work, each of these have worked for me.
Breaking it into simple steps:
- Get a pot. This can be any container, a milk jug with the top cut off, or even a bag of potting soil cut open. Make sure it has drainage holes in the event you over water it.
- Soil. Here in my section of Florida, most of our soil is simply sand, we usually buy our soil at the local home improvement store. Alternatively, if you can find some composted animal manure, you can mix up your own like I did.
- Put the soil in the container. Shake it a bit to force it to settle, then top it off with more soil, being sure to reserve just enough to cover your seeds.
- Put your basil seeds on top of your soil. I scatter mine, but you can place them in even rows if you’d like. I figure it doesn’t get spread evenly in nature, why should I force that on the plants? Yes, they get “optimal” space that way, but isn’t life hardier under competition? Suggested spacing for basil is 6-10 inches between plants, with a suggested 2-4 seeds per spot. This gives clumps of plants to harvest.
- Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil.
- Water gently. A mister would be best, as a heavier amount of water will wash the seeds around. Repeat waterings daily, or enough to keep the soil lightly moist. Basil hates to dry out!
- Seeds will sprout in 2-10 days.
- Harvest from the top of the plant, taking stem and all. Do NOT allow the plant to flower, as it will then die back. Prune the flowers off and use them like you would the leaves.
- Find another herb you want to grow, and expand your garden!
Here are the basil plants started and barely maintained by my 9-year old. The soil was old rabbit manure from my rabbitry, nothing else. The planter sit on the north side of my house under an awning, and gets very little direct sun, and is only watered about twice a week…on the good weeks. Yet we still have basil growing strong even as neglected as it is.
Basil is very easy to grow. Get yourself some seeds and give it a try. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
So let’s get started…