How To Grow: Organic Basil

by Luke Marion

There are many varieties of basil, but some of the most common include sweet basil, Thai basil, lemon basil, and holy basil. There are almost 60 varieties of basil overall! Basil has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is believed to have originated in India and was brought to other parts of the world by traders and travelers. It was also used in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome for both culinary and medicinal purposes. It was used as a symbol of love and fertility in ancient Greece and was also considered a sacred plant in ancient India. In more modern times it is loved on pizza, italian cooking, curries both thai and indian, and even in tea! 

basil growing

In this blog post I will explain how to grow basil from start to finish. 

location: Basil prefers full sun and well-drained soil. If you're growing basil in a pot, choose one that is at least 12 inches deep and has drainage holes. 

Soil: Basil grows best in soil that is rich in organic matter. Mix in compost or well-rotted manure to improve the soil's fertility. Basil does NOT like to be overwatered, and will show signs of root rot very easily if it is overwatered, so ensure soil is well draining. We use mostly compost for our growing medium, however our native soil also has a relatively high clay content. 

Planting: You can start basil from seed or purchase seedlings from a garden center. If you're starting from seed, sow them about 1/4 inch deep and about 2 inches apart. If you're using seedlings, plant them about 8 inches apart.

Watering: Water the basil deeply and regularly, keeping the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases.

Fertilize: Basil benefits from regular fertilization. You can use a balanced fertilizer, such as Trifecta+ or Vegagrow which we use exclusively in our garden, or use a high-nitrogen fertilizer when the plant is actively growing.

Pruning Pinch off the tips of the basil plant to encourage bushier growth and prevent the plant from getting too tall. This will also stop it from going to seed. Once a plant produces seed, the plant will stop growing and begin to die. 

Note: You can also propagate basil super easily! Simply stick some cuttings in a cup of water for a week or two until you see roots form, then simply transplant it to a pot with soil or directly in the ground! Free plants!

Harvesting: You can start harvesting basil leaves when the plant reaches about 6 inches tall. Regular harvesting will encourage bushier growth. leaves can be used fresh or dried. At the end of the season when there is frost threatening, simply cut the entire plant off, bring it indoors, and hang it up to all dry. Basil flowers are also edible and super delicious! 

Pests and diseases: Keep an eye out for common basil pests such as cabbage moths, deer, rabbits, aphids and whiteflies, and diseases such as powdery mildew and downy mildew. 

Try some of these amazing basil recipes! 

Basil tea


  • 1 cup of water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fresh basil leaves
  • Honey (optional)

1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
2. Remove the saucepan from heat and add the basil leaves.
3. Allow the basil to steep for about 5-10 minutes, or until the tea reaches your desired strength.
4. Strain the tea through a fine-mesh sieve or a coffee filter to remove the basil leaves.
5. Sweeten with honey to taste, if desired.

Candied Basil Flowers & leaves

Candied basil flowers can be used as a garnish for desserts, such as cakes, ice cream, or yogurt. They can also be used to decorate cocktails or other drinks. They add a delicate sweetness and a unique basil flavor that complements many sweet dishes.


  • Fresh basil flowers & Leaves
  • Egg whites
  • Powdered sugar

1. Pick the basil flowers or leaves and gently rinse them in cold water. Pat them dry with paper towels.
2. Beat the egg whites in a small bowl until they are frothy.
3. Dip each basil flower into the egg whites, making sure that it is fully coated.
4. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the basil flowers, shaking off any excess.
5. Place the basil flowers on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
6. Let the basil flowers and leaves dry for at least an hour, or until they are completely dry.
7. Once dry, store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place for a week or so.

Thai Basil Lemongrass Soup

Thai basil soup, also known as "Tom Kha Gai," is a popular and flavorful Thai soup that is made with chicken, coconut milk, and a variety of herbs and spices.


  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2-3 bird's eye chilies, sliced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2-3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons of palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 cup of fresh Thai basil leaves


1. In a large pot, bring the chicken broth, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilies, garlic, and ginger to a boil.
2. Add the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes or until cooked through.
3. Stir in the coconut milk, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar or brown sugar.
4. Bring the soup back to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes or until heated through.
5. Remove the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves from the soup.
6. Stir in the Thai basil leaves and cook for just a minute.
7. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
8. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve hot.



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