Basil is an annual plant, relatively small, which is easy to grow.
Basil plant is very rich in nutrients. Italian basil contains a variety of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients needed for proper body functioning .
It is an important source of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and an important source of minerals such as iron, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.
It is also good to know that this plant contains important substances such as tannin, a substance that has antiseptic and antispasmodic effects, and other active compounds that protect body cells from the negative effects of UV radiation. Flavonoids and volatile compounds have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Its leaves are used to flavor foods or for the preparation of certain natural remedies.
Those may be good reasons for growing your own basil.
It can easily be grown in a pot on the balcony or on a window sill. Or, of course, in your herb garden.
The organic herb seeds can be sown in spring in covered seedbeds or in pots with nutrient topsoil to a depth of about 0.4 inch. If there were too many seeds sown the plants can be removed when they have about four or five leaves. When the temperature is above 15ºC they grow really fast.
After sowing the seeds, the topsoil should be kept moisturized, avoiding the stagnation of water.
The plants may be left outside when the temperature reaches 12ºC.
A pot with 10 inches diameter and depth is quite fit for a basil plant.
The ideal climate for growing basil is the warm temperate one but it can adapt to temperate areas and it is very sensitive to frost. If temperatures drops overnight the plants should be protected and taken into a warm shelter.
Basil prefers sunny positions at north and shady at south. Excess sun leads to premature inflorescences. The ideal position for a basil pot is the one guaranteeing few hours of shade daily, preferably during midday.
The pots should be filled with universal soil rich in organic matter and irrigation should be steady and moderate. Excess water can cause root to rot. For an efficient drainage you may place a 1 inch layer of expanded clay or gravel on the bottom of the pot.
The flowers should be removed as they arise, to stimulate the production of leaves. The crown of the plant needs to be clipped regularly preferably starting with the lower leaves.
Harvesting can begin in about a month after sowing. As the flowers appear, the plant stops producing leaves and they are less flavorful.
The leaves can be harvested during the summer months and even in early autumn.
Fresh leaves can be frozen, dried, or may be preserved in oil. Those who want to obtain special color effects may grow basil in the same pot with other herbs like sage, rosemary, dill.