Sweet Basil, otherwise known as St. John’s Wort, is leafy and bush-like in appearance. Its fragrant aroma makes it a favorite in the home garden where it works well as a border. Once harvested, this herb is most often prominently featured in Italian cuisine.
Bright green with broad leaves, bushy in appearance
Seasonal preference: Spring
Germination duration: 10 to 15 days
Germination conditions: Light
Days to maturity: 60 to 90 days
Companion plants: Tomatoes
Incompatible plants: Rue
Seed description: Tiny, black; resemble mouse droppings
First leaves description: Smooth, narrow and slender
True leaves description: Broad, spade shaped with ridges
Thinning time: Once seedlings reach 2 to 3 inches
Final spacing: 12-in
Plant height: 12 to 24-in
Plant spread: 6 to 9-in
Root depth: 12 to 16-in
Light preference: Full sun
Moisture preference: Moist
Soil preference: 5.5 to 6.5 pH
Produce size: Leaves
Produce yield: Multiple
Flavor: Sweet, spicy
After the seedlings have their first six leaves, prune to above the second set. Every time a branch has six to eight leaves, repeat pruning the branches back to their first set of leaves.
Fresh (Raw), Dried, Frozen
The best method for storing basil is freezing. Freezing will prevent the plant from losing any of its flavor. To quick-freeze basil, dry whole sprigs of basil and package them in airtight plastic bags.
Another storage method is drying the basil, although some of the flavor will be lost. Pinch off the leaves at the stem and place them in a well-ventilated and shady area.