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Growing Perfect Basil

I planted my basil over the weekend and I PRAY it looks like this, from last year. Up until last year, I just struggled with growing healthy basil, and I use it constantly. I do think the sea air down here helped, and I do use basil that has started in small pots, I do not start from seed ( even though I purchased some this year and they are sitting on my counter).

Here is what I did last year, plan to do this year, and I am sharing these tips with you.

~Basil thrives in moist soil, so check moisture levels often and water deeply once the top inch becomes dry. Water the soil, not the leaves.

~As basil plants grow to 4 to 6 inches tall, pinch off the topmost branches to promote more side shoots and a taller plant overall.

~Be sure to pinch off blooms to prevent your plant from going to seed.

~ Basil plants like a good amount of sun. Position your plants in a nice sunny spot where they can receive six to eight hours of sun per day.

~Feed your basil plants with a good organic fertilizer every 2-3 weeks for outdoor. A well-balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphate, will help to boost leaf production.

~ Pruning is the key to making your basil plant grow big and bushy. It may seem counterproductive to be cutting away when you want the plant to grow bigger, however, properly pruning your basil plant has everything to do with its growing success.

~ Make sure your plants are 6″ tall or larger before you start pruning. Use herb pruning shears or small scissors help to ensure a clean cut.

Don’t just randomly pick a leaf and snip. The leaves you trim will determine the continued health of your basil plant. Your pruning shears may be drawn to those large, deep green leaves found at the bottom of your plant, but keep those intact. These are the powerhouses of your plant and are needed to take in the sunlight and provide the rest of the plant with ample nutrients. Instead, pick the smaller ones growing at the top. Basil leaves grow in two leaves in opposite directions, sending up a stalk in the middle, which grow two more leaves. Locate those new tiny leaves that are forming on the branch and cut the stem just above the new leaves you identified, being careful to leave the new growth of leaves intact. Each time you prune the leaves at the top of your plant, it allows two new branches (and two new sets of leaves) to grow from that spot. When you prune again, new branches will grow exponentially bigger with each correct pruning, creating that bushiness you want.

Bring on the Pesto and Caprese!!

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