Basil is a culinary herb that belongs to the mint family Lamiaceae. It adds a great flavor to your food and is also very good for your health. You can add basil flavor to your salads, pizzas, pasta, and many other dishes since it enhances their taste and boosts the food’s nutritional value overall. Even if you are a beginner, you can quickly grow basil. Using square foot gardening basil, you can grow it very well in small spaces.
Square foot gardening is a great way to not only use small garden space to expand the basil properly but through it, you can also ensure an excellent yield. The most common variety of basil is the sweet basil. But there are other flavors like the lemon basil that give a lemon flavor to the traditional basil.
Benefits of growing basil
Basil is a great herb to have in your garden because of the fantastic benefits it has for us, like medicinal and many other kinds. They are used in adding flavor to many dishes, salads, pasta, soups, and sauces.
In many homes, it is considered to be a must-have-in-your-garden plant. Let us see some of the benefits of basil-
- Helps in stress- When you consume the basil leaves in the form of teas and any such beverages, you release tension. Not only it helps in oxidative stress, but also it is good for mental health as shown by studies.
- Purifies the air- Basil plant keeps the air clean and fresh by providing a great supply of oxygen to the atmosphere. On average, it is known to give out oxygen for 20 hours per day. Additionally, it absorbs many harmful gases from the atmosphere like sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, and carbon dioxide, thereby giving you fresh air.
- Gives a fresh aroma- The plant has a fresh scent to it, which also depends on the variety of plants you are growing. But most types have mood booster properties and give a new fragrance to your home.
- Helps in pollination- this plant attracts some pollinating agents like bees, lady flies, and hoverflies, and hence it helps in the pollination process of the nearby plants.
- Repels Mosquitoes- Basil plant keeps the nasty insects like mosquitoes away and hence prevents malaria and such diseases.
- Helps in kidney stones
- Beats cold and cough- The antioxidant properties of basil help it gives relief in cold, cough, and flu, and the essential oils extracted from the basil plants can also help in combating certain infections.
- Reduces inflammation and swelling- basil has anti-inflammation properties that help in reducing the inflammation in your body.
- Helps in fighting cancer- In many ways, basil plants help in fighting certain types of cancers like liver, lungs, oral, etc. due to its minerals and vitamins and other properties.
- Other health benefits- Basil is rich in vitamins like vitamin K, minerals like calcium, other macronutrients, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps us in dealing with several medical conditions like kidney stones, supports liver health, helps in skin aging, manages blood pressure levels, etc. It also gives support in reducing cholesterol levels.
These are the many benefits of growing basil plants together with its main property of providing a fresh flavor to the dishes. It is always great to have basil in your garden.
How do you start a square foot garden?
Square foot gardening is a technique to grow more plants in an organized manner in small spaces with efficient space utilization. In this vegetable gardening technique, we have to take a small garden bed to say 4 feet by 4 feet or even 4 feet by 8 feet. Then we divide this garden bed in 1-foot square grids.
These grids can be managed separately, and you can grow one variety of plants in a single grid. You can also devote one or more grids for one variety of vegetable itself, depending upon the number of vegetable plants you want to grow.
These days instead of using garden beds, you can also use wooden frames of 6 inches deep or a raised bed to make it even more manageable and feasible to you in case of an urban setup. So you can choose according to your preference for garden beds, raised beds, or wooden frames of square grids.
The essence of square foot gardening could be taken as the soil mix, which should be highly rich in nutrients. For that, you could use compost, vermiculture, and peat moss in equal parts in place of normal garden soil mixed with compost.
Then you decide the number of plants that can grow per grid and make small holes in the soil for sowing seeds or planting the saplings accordingly. It is a fast setup and requires minimal everyday care and gives a good yield.
Square foot gardening basil
After having seen the benefits of basil and the purpose and concept of square foot gardening, let us now see how we can grow Square foot gardening basil.
Basil plants do not like the frosty season and are warm temperature loving plants. The ideal soil temperature for growth is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but the plant will grow the best when the soil temperature goes for about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or 21 degrees celsius.
However, it would be preferred that the temperature should not drop below 50 degrees Fahrenheit or 10 degrees celsius, at least during the nighttime.
Hence, owing to the plant’s temperature requirement, it is preferred that the basil be grown indoors to start with. You can grow the seeds indoors six weeks before the last frost time of spring since the temperature can be maintained indoors.
Till the time the outdoor temperatures start to increase after the frost season, and soil temperature and conditions become ideal, you can shift them to your square foot garden outside.
Together with being a plant that loves growing in warm temperatures, basil also loves sunlight. The plant needs ample sunlight for about 6 hours per day, at least. Hence make sure that you are setting up your square foot garden in such a place that the plant can get a good amount of sunlight per day.
Although the plant can grow in partial sunlight, the best growth of the plant full sunlight of 6 to 8 hours will be good.
Potting mix for square foot gardening Basil
When using the square foot gardening method, you should ensure that the soil you are using is of the best quality. You can make a potting mix of three components in equal proportions for the best results in square foot gardening basil.
The three components being compost, vermiculture, and peat moss in equal proportions as the potting mix will be able to provide good nutrition to the plants. You can also use some other good quality soil mix, but make sure it is rich and is free from weeds.
The soil used for growing basil should be a well-drained soil but also moist at the same time.
Watering requirements for square foot gardening
The plant should be watered regularly, especially during summers. The soil must be moist to touch, but at the same time, don’t overwater the plant as overwatering may cause the roots to rot and die. Ideally, you can water the plants up to about half-inch per week to ensure the plant’s healthy growth.
While watering the plant, try to water the plant at the soil level and not from the plant’s top as this might damage the plants.
Seeds planting and spacing
Basil can be planted from seeds, and you can choose the kind of basil that you want to grow and then buy them from online stores or from the local markets. You can start growing the seeds indoors in the frost season itself, and once the frost has gone, you can transplant these small saplings in your square garden outside.
This will save you the time needed for germination of seeds as when you grow the seeds indoors even if the weather is frosty and inappropriate for the seeds to be able to grow outdoors. This will help you get ahead of many other gardeners with respect to the growing time.
When planting basil in square foot gardens, you must make holes in the soil to plant them for about ¼ inch deep in the soil. It depends on the variety of basil you are growing, but ideally, in each square foot, you can plant four plants with equal spacing among them. You can produce all the plants at the four borders of the square foot.
But if you want to grow a lesser number of plants, for sure, you can plant a lesser number of plants per square as well.
Caring and Harvesting
When the plants reach the height of 6 to 8 inches tall, you can start harvesting them throughout the growing season. It is a herb; hence you must begin to picking the plant leaves and use them fresh from the garden. The early morning time is the best time to pick the leaves as during that time of the day; the leaves are in their most juicy form.
During the harvesting season, when the temperature gets 80 degrees Fahrenheit the plant will start producing leaves a lot. If you keep harvesting the leaves regularly throughout the growing season, it will encourage the plants to leaf out further.
Therefore you must keep picking leaves regularly if you need them, but if not, you can store them. It may also be seen as pruning the leaves from time to time, as picking the leaves regularly encourages further growth.
During picking the leaves, you should do that by pinching the leaves from the stems in the center as that will encourage the leaves to branch out more leaves, and the plant will also keep flowering. It is advised to harvest the plants before the cold season comes back as then cold will make the leaves turn black. You can harvest and store them for further use.
Preserving of basil leaves
For using the basil leaves for use in the short term, you can do so by taking a cup and filling it up with water. Now place the leaves in the cup, and you can use them whenever you want in a short time. For storing in the long term, you can use the following way-
- Drying- To preserve the basil leaves, you can dry them by putting them in a shady place that is well ventilated. After 3 to 4 days it will be dry. If not, and if you want to speed up the process, you can put them in your oven at the lowest heat temperature and keep the door slightly open while the leaves dry out. Keep checking on them and also remember to turn the sides of the leaves from time to time. Then store it in some container. However, in the drying technique, the basil leaves might lose some of its flavors.
- Freezing is a great way to preserve your basil leaves by freezing them as the basil leaves will not lose its flavor. To freeze the basil leaves, you can take the whole leaves or cut them and then put them in airtight containers or reusable plastic bags. Now you just need to place this airtight container in the freezer.
Companions to plant with basil
You can grow some other plants together with basil that would require the same type of conditions for growth like basil and will not disrupt its development in any way as well. Tomatoes are great plants to grow alongside with basil plants.
Not only will it get along with the conditions of growth for basil, but they also complement each other’s growth. Meaning that they both grow well when they are planted alongside. Some other plants that can be grown as a companion of basil are-
Types of basil
The herb basil comes in many varieties that you can choose from to grow. It depends on the zone of America that you live in or your locations’ weather conditions that may suit the specific variety. It may even be your choice and preference for the type of basil you want to grow. So here are some of the varieties of basil that you may like to grow and savor.
- Sweet basil – This is the kind of basil that is sweeter in taste and is the best to be used in making sauce, soups, and even pesto dishes. They prefer hot climate conditions and grow upto 14 to 30 inches in height in the growing season. To allow the plant to keep producing leaves throughout the growing season, you must pinch 3 to 4 leaves off from the plant’s topmost part to harvest. This will make it keep branching throughout the growing season.
- Purple ruffle basil- The leaves and the stems of these types of basils are purple in color. They add a great look to the landscape where you are growing them by enhancing the scenic view due to its color and texture. You can use them for garnishing or other floral arrangements. The plant can grow upto 16 to 20 inches in height.
- Lemon basil- Another great kind of basil is this lime basil. It has a lemon-like smell in it and also has a lemon flavor. You can use this herb in many dishes, like when you are cooking fish or chicken. Lemon basils can also be used in beverages like teas and margaritas as it gives a fresh flavor to it. They grow upto 12 to 16 inches in height.
Does Square Foot gardening really work?
Square foot gardening is an effective way to grow plants in small spaces. It enables us to grow 100% of crops in 20% space since the crops are densely packed but are still properly arranged. It uses vertical space to give higher yields.
They are fast set up and have lesser weeding problems. Also, the potting mix used is so rich in nutrients that the yields get higher. So yes, square foot gardening works well by increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of growth.
However, together with that, there are some shortcomings like they have high costs initially in setting up. Also, the beds’ depth is insufficient, and you have to water the beds more frequently as smaller beds tend to dry faster.
There is some maintenance required for square foot gardening but in spite of the cons, square foot gardening Basil is still used by people to reap its many benefits in terms of yields, space, convenience, and organized way of gardening.
Does basil like sun or shade?
Basil plants love warm temperatures, and they don’t grow in cold temperatures or frosty seasons. They need warm climates and can grow in partially shady conditions, but they will need full sunlight to grow to their full potential. Basil plants need full direct sunlight of 6 to 8 hours a day to thrive.
Therefore, it is recommended to grow basil outdoors only after the last frosts of spring when the temperature and soil start to warm up, providing a hot climatic condition for basil and ample sunlight.
How do you know when basil is ready to harvest?
Basil is an annual plant that loves warm temperatures. It cannot survive the cold frosts; hence it is advised to plant the saplings or seeds outdoors only after the last frost has gone, and the soil temperature starts to warm up to at least 50 degrees.
It will take 50 to 60 days for the plant mature to get harvested after planting the seeds. The height of the plant will depend upon the variety of plants that you are growing. The plant will be ready to harvest when the plant has 6 to 8 leaves on it.
During the growing season, you can keep pruning and harvesting the leaves. Try to pick the leaves by pinching them from the top center of the plant whenever you require them as that will help the plant to branch out further.
Pruning of the basil leaves whenever you need them promotes further growth of new leaves on the plant. Hence it is advised that you should keep pruning the leaves from time to time even if you don’t need them; you can pick them and preserve for further use.
You may also like following vegetable gardening blogs:
- Square Foot Gardening Potatoes
- Grow Corn in Square Foot Gardening
- Watermelon square foot gardening
- How to Add Calcium to Soil: How Do I Add Calcium to my Garden?
- What Vegetables Grow Well Together In Containers?
- How to grow kohlrabi (step by step)
Growing basil in square foot gardening is very easy to grow even for beginners. Square foot gardening Basil is an easy way to grow basil efficiently and productively. It saves space and also makes gardening organized.
Basil is a herb that has many benefits being of medicinal purpose as well as several services. You should choose the variety of basil that will best suit you according to the zone in America you live in, your area’s climatic conditions, and your preferences.
By taking care of the plant’s temperature requirements, the sunlight requirements, the water requirements, the soil mix for square foot gardening Basil, the spacing requirements, and the harvesting and pruning requirements to take care of the plants better.
Try to pick them up from the top center part since this pinching helps the plant to branch out more leaves. You can also preserve your basil for a short time as well as for a long time. By using square foot gardening of basil, you can grow your plants to their full potential and get an awesome yield this year.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.