Sowing, growing and harvesting basil (Sweet Genovese)
Watch our animated guides to sowing, growing and harvesting your basil seeds.
May to June - Sow, sow, sow
Fill a small pot or pots with moist multipurpose compost. Sprinkle your seeds thinly (about 10 seeds per pot) and cover with a very fine layer of compost. Place your pots on a warm windowsill. Keep the soil moist but not too wet as the seeds can rot. Seedlings should appear after one or two weeks.
Late May to June - Plant out
After about five weeks your seedlings should be ready to be transferred into individual pots. Tease them out, holding the leaves very carefully so you don't damage the roots, before potting up separately into small pots. Your basil can now be left indoors all summer or planted outside.
Growing your basil outside?
First harden the plants off by standing them outside during the day and bringing them in at night for a fortnight. Their final home needs to be a sunny, sheltered spot. Basil in a pot needs regular feeding - use a general-purpose liquid feed. Water little and often, nip out the tips and remove any flower buds that appear. This will help the plant grow strong and leafy.
July to September
Pick the leaves as soon as they're big enough to use. Be careful not to pick off whole shoots as the plant will take longer to start producing leaves again. It's a good idea to have several plants growing at the same time so your plants don't get over-picked.