Thursday, October 14, 2010

New basil plants for old

From about now I want lots and lots of basil. One plant on a windowsill doesn't quite fit the bill. Here's a wonderful solution from my friend Ali. I'm going to try it as soon as my current basil plant goes woody.

          "For years I tried to grow basil plants outdoors, with little success. Whether I raised my own plants from seed or bought them from the garden centre, they never grew into the big bushy plants you see in the illustrations of Mediterranean cookbooks."
          "So eventually I gave up, and resorted to pots of basil on the kitchen windowsill, courtesy of the local greengrocer. But however well I fed them the plants never produced for more than a few weeks, and I’d be left with a pot of woody stalks, each with a few small leaves."

"Then late last year, as I was about to empty a pot of tired plants into the compost, I decided to put them out in the garden, and see what happened. I chose a sheltered sunny corner, added some compost to the soil, and planted the basil in two rows about 15 cm apart, surrounded by some old bricks to keep out the wind and keep in the heat."
            "The results were spectacular. Within a couple of weeks the plants were shooting up and smothered in big fresh leaves. I soon had enough basil to pick by the handful, just like it says in the recipes! By watering regularly, and pinching out any flower-heads that formed, I managed to keep my basil forest going right through the summer. Such a treat, being able to make regular batches of homegrown pesto! "

"I’ve just bought a new pot of basil for the windowsill, and when the plants have done their dash indoors (and the weather improves!) they too will get a second life out in the veggie garden, just in time for the first tomatoes… "


Philbee, NZ said...

I wonder if it's because the plants are already established (albeit in miniscule supermarket size!) and cropping, so once they find themselves in the Great Outdoors with room to move, they do so BIG time!
Either way, I'm definitely going to buy some basil plants next time I do my groceries - it's gotta be worth a try!

Anonymous said...

Wow that is incredible. I must find some bricks too for I too would like to cultivate a basil forest.