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Growing Basil in New South Wales

Introducing Basil

A delicious and versatile herb. Basil is a great companion plant for tomatoes and has many of the same requirements. It’s easy to grow and easy to use. Keep picking and it’ll keep producing in abundance. Basil grows beautifully in the ground, but is also a great plant for container gardening.

Classic Mistakes

Basil needs wet 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.

Sunlight

Grow in: Partial Shade - Full Sun

Basil prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade, especially in the heat of the afternoon.

Soil Preparation

Basil likes a rich soil, so work some compost and well-rotted manure into your soil before you plant.

Sowing Seed

Sow seed: September-December
Sowing depth: Twice the height of the seed

Seeds can be started outdoors once it’s consistently warm. (usually about the same time you plant your tomatoes)

Sow basil in containers indoors or sow directly into the garden once all danger of frost has passed and its consistently warm. 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 once the weather warms.

Planting

Plant seedlings: September-January

Seedlings can be planted once it’s consistently warm. (Usually around the same time as tomatoes)

Plant seedling as soon as possible after you get them home form the nursery. Add a small amount of organic bone meal to each whole. This help the plants develop strong root systems, which will help them survive the hot summer and grow an abundance of sweet leaves.

Care

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 mild New South Wales winters, perennial basil can be grown in the garden right through winter.

Watering

Basil does not like to dry out. These plants need a fair amount of water especially on really hot days. They’re not super thirsty, but make sure their roots don’t dry out.

Feeding

Basil likes to be fed. Give it a small dose of fish emulsion or compost tea every 4-6 weeks through summer.

Mulching

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 during the warm summer months.

Harvesting

Harvest: 7 to 8 Weeks After Planting

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.

What to Plant Now

What to do about Snails and slugs?

Lay down grit, like eggshells or silica sand or create barriers around your plants. Remove any slugs or snails that you see.

What to do about Downy mildew?

Use a copper spray every 7-10 days for as long as necessary.
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