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Grow basil at home like a pro! It is nutritious and well worth the effort. This guide will help you grow this wonderful herb in the tropics.
Sweet basil is a very popular herb in Italian cooking. It is best known as the central ingredient in pesto.
Basil is originally native to India, Asia, and Africa. There are more than 60 varieties of basil, each has its own distinct flavour. However, the sweet basils are the most popular of these.
Basil for the Tropics
Sweet basil is our favourite and we grow a lot of it during the tropical dry season. However, we find, that sweet basil does struggle during the hot and humid conditions of a tropical summer.
Thai basil is an excellent basil to grow in a tropical summer. It grows well all year round, but comes into its own over summer.
How to Grow Basil at Home from Seeds
Plant in a loose, organic soil where your basil will get plenty of sunlight.
Time needed: 5 minutes
How do I grow basil at home from seed?
- Sow your seeds:
You can plant all year round in the tropics. Sow your seeds evenly and cover by sprinkling a few millimetres of potting mix or soil over the top of the seeds.
Once your seedlings appear, thin them out so they are 25 to 30cm (10-12in) apart.
Water the seedlings around twice a week. This may fluctuate depending on the humidity in your environment. When the top of the soil feels dry, give them water.
The secret to basil growing is to harvest often. The more you harvest your basil, the more your plant will grow. Also remember that pulling leaves off can damage the vine. Don’t do that. So simply harvest with a pair of scissors.
Growing Basil in Pots
Basil is a very easy to grow and versatile herb. Indeed it can be grown in pots quite easily. Furthermore you can simply grow it from seed or cutting.
It is fine to put coffee grounds around your basil, but don’t overdo it. If you use it sparingly, the nitrogen in the coffee grounds will give your plant a nice boost.
How to Care for your Basil
Location and Soil
Plant in full sun, or at least where the plant will get sun for a good part of the day. Also, plant your seeds in well draining soil. Hence loose soil is a good medium for this plant. Here in the tropics we recommend growing basil in pots or a container bed.
If you are growing direct into lovely rich soil, you may not need to fertilise your basil at all. However, if you are growing in a pot or container, fertilise your basil every 4 weeks with a liquid fertiliser.
Remember that plants will dry out quicker in a container, so be sure to water at least every 7 days.
Pests and Diseases
Insect pests and diseases are more of a problem during the wet season. This is due to the hot humid conditions.
The major pests in the tropics are leaf eating beetles, aphids and caterpillars. However, you can pick these off your plants at home, or if the challenge is bigger you can use an insecticide.
Grow Basil for Health
Eating basil is not only enjoyable, it has many health benefits. So there are many healthy reasons to grow basil at home.
Loaded with vitamins and minerals, basil is good for your health.
Basil helps to slow down the process of sugar release in the blood. This makes it useful as part of an overall strategy to manage excessive body weight.
Basil is high in fibre, especially if you eat the seeds. It also contains eugenol, which has an anti-inflammatory affect on the digestive tract. Consuming basil can be a useful part of an overall strategy to address inflammatory bowel conditions.
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is widely believed to improve immunity when eaten on an empty stomach.
You should also grow basil at home for its antioxidants such as eugenol, anthocyanins and beta-carotene. These antioxidants help the body fight free radicals in the body, thus reducing cell damage. This can reduce your risk for a variety of conditions, such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
Basil has prebiotic fibre that is good for gut health. The seeds are particularly helpful in this regard.
In conclusion thank you for reading and we encourage you to grow basil at home.
Other Tropical Herbs
- Garlic Chives Growing
- Ginger Growing
- Thai Chili Plant Care
- Vietnamese Mint (laksa leaf)