Herbs are expensive, purchased in the supermarket, but a welcomed aromatic and taste-filled addition to any cooking recipe. Easy to sow for year round enjoyment, fast to mature, why not start your kitchen herb garden today?

Basil plant

Fresh basil is a wonderful aromatic, spicy herb, much used in cooking recipes.

Great in summer salads, fresh sliced tomatoes and mozzarella drizzled with a good olive oil topped with fresh basil, Italian spaghetti sauce recipes, pasta, and pizza toppings. The difference in taste is worth adding fresh basil, rather than dried bottled basil. It really gives so much extra flavor to homemade marinara sauce recipes, but it is so expensive to buy fresh basil in the grocery store, $3.99 for two or three sprigs of a plant.

Basil on salads

Many hardware and plant stores still carry basil seed in packets. Basil seed can be planted all year round and grown outside in the warm months and by a sunny window in the colder months. Basil plants don't like to be moved after the summer and usually die off very quickly with the change in temperature, if brought inside.

The answer is to plant from seed about every three months or so, and you'll always have a fresh supply.

Fill a styrofoam container that mushrooms are packed in with loose damp potting soil. Basil seed are very tiny and require no soaking prior to planting. With your damp, not wet, fingers pat the seed onto the soil.

Basil seedlings in starter pot

Lightly spray with a mister or light spray from the kitchen sink. Cover with saran wrap and place in a sunny window or outdoors, if warm enough. In about a week to ten days, you will see signs of the first green seed leaves. Remove the saran wrap and spray or mist with water.

When the seedlings begin to sprout their second pair of leaves, carefully remove them with a tweezer. They should be about 2 inches high then. Repot to a 3-4 inch pot and separate three -five seedlings to each pot. Keep moist and in a sunny area. As the seedlings grow, you will need to transplant once more to a 6 inch pot. Pinch the third or fourth set of leaves to make the plants bushy.

basil seedleafsTransplant basil to larger pots

Planting a second and third growth of seedlings will depend on your family's consumption of basil and weather in your particular area. Save money, plant your own basil from seeds and have it fresh year round. If you have an abundance left over at frost time in the fall, cut it and make pesto for your freezer; use it later for all your pasta recipes.

basil in July from seed