Growing Basil in The Northern Territory
A delicious and versatile herb which loves warm Top End weather. It’s easy to grow and easy to use. Keep picking and it’ll keep producing in abundance. It’s a wonderful addition to many Italian dishes, and great for making your own pesto.
Basil needs moist soil, but not wet leaves. Water in the morning so that the leaves can dry quickly as the day warms up. Pick your basil regularly to encourage bushier plants and better production.
Basil prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade, especially in the heat of the afternoon.
Basil likes a rich soil, so work some compost and well-rotted manure into your soil before you plant.
If you are sow seeds during the wet season, plant them in seed trays, so that they are sheltered from the monsoon rains and storms.
Sow basil in containers indoors or sow directly into the garden. Keep the soil moist until the plants are up. Make sure to keep them well watered until they’re properly established. Basil germinates and grows easily, so if you’ve allowed basil to go to seed in previous years, there’s a good chance you’ll find some seedlings popping up in your garden.
If you are planting seedlings during the wet season, plant them in pots or sheltered areas, so that they are protected from the monsoon rains and storms.
Plant seedling as soon as possible after you get them home form the nursery. Add a small amount of organic bone meal to each hole. This helps the plants develop strong root systems, which will help them survive the hot summer and grow an abundance of sweet leaves.
Pinch out the growing tip regularly to encourage bushy plants and pick leaves regularly to promote growth. They will bush beautifully if they’re pruned weekly. The more you harvest the bigger and bushier they’ll grow.
There are many varieties of basil and some of them are perennial. Like annual basil, these varieties are also frost sensitive. In the Top End, perennial basil can be grown in the garden right through the year
Basil does not like dry soil, which means it will love the warm wet season. The plants need a fair amount of water especially on really hot days, so although they are not super thirsty, ensure that the soil remains moist during the dry season.
Basil likes to be fed. Give it a small dose of fish emulsion, kelp extract or compost tea every 4-6 weeks.
Basil likes a moist soil, so a good layer of organic mulch will be very useful. Sugarcane or lucerne are good options. Be sure to top up the mulch through the season as organic mulches break down quickly in warm, wet weather.
You can really start to harvest as soon as there are enough leaves on your plant. Remember to keep picking out the top leaves and flowers to ensure bushier, healthier plants.
Harvest leaves as needed. Always make sure to leave enough leaves on the plant for it to recover and grow more leaves. Remember, plants need leaves for photosynthesis to keep strong and healthy. Use your fingers or scissors to pick leaves from the plant.