Basil, a culinary favorite of many people, is a member of the mint family and many forms can be grown in Colorado. This native of Asia and India has been in cultivation for more than 5,000 years. Basil's botanical name means "to be fragrant."
Basil may be started from seed indoors, six weeks prior to the last frost or may be purchased as small plants from a local garden center or nursery. It grows best in evenly moist soil that drains well and has been amended with organic matter.
Be sure to follow the seed packet and plant label information for spacing because air circulation is important to prevent disease in basil plants. This plant branches rapidly after being pinched. Pinching is removing half of each stem of new growth every week from mid-June to the end of the season, which causes the plant to become bushy provide more leaves for cooking. Allowing flowers to develop will reduce its leaf yield.
Harvest this, and all herbs, in the morning after dew is gone to capture the highest concentration of essential oils.
For more information, see the following Colorado State Extension fact sheet(s).
- Vegetable garden: Soil Management and Fertilization
- Perennial gardening
- Powdery Mildews
- Nonchemical Disease Control
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Updated Friday, April 19, 2013