Botanical names: Ocimum americanumOcimum basilicumOcimum citriodorum and Ocimum tenuiflorum

Basil is an annual warm season plant that does well in a range of climates. It is suitable for temperate, subtropical and tropical areas. Easy to grow, it can be sown from spring to mid-summer. Sow seed in warm conditions, the best germination soil temperature is 23 – 30°C. Germination will take 3 – 9 days. Sow into a seed-raising tray and cover seed lightly to 5 mm (¼”) deep. Plant the seedlings out into a position in full sun with moderately rich, well-drained soil. Improve the soil before planting by adding compost; the pH range should be between 5.5 – 7. Space rows 30 – 45 cm apart with 20 cm between plants. The plant should be tip-pruned and the flower spikes should be removed regularly to increase bushiness. Use basil to flavour tomato dishes and to make pesto. Make extra pesto to freeze early in the season before the leaves become bitter. Always add basil at the end of the cooking time to maximise its flavour.

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