How to grow basil: A beginners guide


In the UK in 2014, sales of Basil (Pots, bunches, packs) exceeded 19 million. It’s one of the top ten selling herbs in the country. ( I think this is great as I would hope it means us Brits are cooking up some fantastic dishes at home!

Have you ever bought a pack of fresh basil from the supermarket only to use some and then end up throwing out the wilted unappealing leftovers a few days later? This has become a pet hate of mine – I hate the waste.

I’m sure there are ways I could prevent this waste from happening, but I think the best solution is to grow the basil myself and harvest it fresh as and when I need it.

I’ll be growing a few herbs for the kitchen this year. This month I’m starting with basil. My plan is to grow this in pots in the home garden so it close to hand.

Here’s how I’m growing basil:

Step 1

Gather together the few things needed:

  1. Some small pots. I’m using my homemade toilet roll pots to start the basil off. If you would like to give these a go take a look at my blog post Plot Project: Toilet roll pots
  2. Seed sowing compost. I’m using John Innes.
  3. Basil seeds. I’m using the common variety ‘sweet basil’ from Mr Fothergills.
  4. Vermiculite – as a seed covering.

Step 2

Place moist compost into the pots. Leave enough room for a covering of vermiculite on top. Sprinkle the tiny basil seeds into the palm of your hand and then drop them, one at a time, on top of the moist compost. I’m sowing three to a pot. If they all germinate I will either keep the strongest seedling or transplant all of the seedlings into separate pots at a later stage.

Step 3

Cover the seeds with a layer of vermiculite, pop the pots into a tray and don’t forget to add a label. I’m using a heated propagator, placed on a sunny windowsill to germinate. The seedlings should appear in 7-14 days after which I will remove the heat and grow them on before placing the plants into the outside greenhouse.

I have only sown a few seeds. I will wait a few more weeks and sow another batch. I hope this will provide a succession throughout the summer and enable me to use fresh basil in the kitchen over a long period. There’s always pesto to make if it gets a bit much!

When the seedlings are big enough, they can be transplanted and grown on in bigger pots – eventually getting to their final pots for the season ahead.

If you’re growing basil, or any herbs in the kitchen garden, I’d love to hear from you. I’m always grateful for any advice and guidance. Drop me a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.



8 thoughts on “How to grow basil: A beginners guide

      1. It seemed to grow pretty well. I did pretty much what you are doing. Sprinkled on top of some compost in 4″ pot and then split it up when it was about 6″ tall. The purple was slower than green to germinate and to grow

        Liked by 1 person

  1. The best thing to do with the left over herbs is freeze them for later. Just tear the leaves (don’t cut, as that bruises them), pop them in ice cube trays, top up with water. Freeze. Decant into a plastic bag once frozen. Pop into cooking straight from freezer. No waste, fresh herbs, bingo!


  2. I grow basil, but it is never as bountiful as it was when I lived in London and grew plants given to me by my Italian neighbour. I wish I knew which cultivar it was! I freeze leftover basil leaves too – no waste and so useful! Great post – I think more people should grow their own herbs.


    1. Hi Sarah. You’re not the first to mention about Italian cultivar and success with growing basil. I have tried growing basil once before and just couldn’t get it going. I love cooking and I think having the herbs growing near the backdoor will be fantastic. Will share the experience of trying to grow more herbs this year!


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