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Accidental Farmer

Accidentally Growing and Propagating Basil

Just in case you've never made a pesto sauce or haven't experienced the unmatched flavor and delight of basil, I'm going to show you how to grow it and keep growing it year-round, indoors and outdoors.

Basil is a herb, and it's one that is very sensitive to cold, so, first off, once tempatures go below 50 degrees overnight, it's time to bring your plant or plants inside and place them in front of a Southern-facing window. The photos on this page (which you can enlarge) show the basil next to my vintage stereo set-up.

I am lucky to have exceptional Southern exposure. My entire front faces South, and there are seven large windows from which to choose. By January, my basil will be growing as if it's the middle of July.

The basil plants you see in the pictures on this page started life more than two years ago. This is the second winter it is spending inside.

Here's the accidental part of this story.

The two pots in which the basil plants reside were originally set out on my deck, getting full sun, growing nicely all summer. When it was time to bring them inside, I put them into a tray partially filled with potting soil.

The plants contined to grow all fall and winter, but when I was ready to bring them back outside, I realized the roots had grown into the potting soil in the tray, so I took the whole set-up back out to the deck.

Another summer of growing and producing delicious basil leaves which I pluck every now and again, and it was back inside about a month ago. The thing is, during the summer, some seeds must have fallen into the tray and into the pots, producing little baby basil plants. Cool. All those little buds have seeds inside them. Some day, I'll actually trim my basil beast and collect the seeds from the dried buds.

I allowed these plants to grow, and eventually, I'll have more basil than anybody would reasonably need, so I'll jar it up, give it to friends, let it dry and keep, put some in olive oil and freeze it, or do whatever I like with my bounty of basil.

I have no idea how long basil plants live, but this one will continue to keep producing babies (seeds) and so will the others. I'll have basil forever.

A couple of pointers:

Basil is very easy to grow. Just give it lots of sun and water and it will respond in a positive manner. If you're starting from seeds or a seedling from your local greenery, make sure to get HEIRLOOMS, not HYBRIDS.

That's it for now. Spring is less than months away.

Next month, all about compost.

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