Greek Basil is a beautiful hardy annual herb when grown in the UK. This wonderful herb forms a small leaf, low bush plant that you can pick from whenever a recipe calls for it! Easy to grow, this no fuss plant is a regular staple in my herb garden. Here’s how I grow mine…
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First a Little History!
Here in the UK Greek Basil needs a little nurturing to get it growing! But in Greece this beauty grows wild!
Though technically not greek!…..Although named after the Greeks, Greek Basil actually has origins in India 5,000 years ago! It is believed that Alexander the Great (July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC) was responsible for bringing the sacred herb to Greece.
The Holy Herb
Legend has it that St. Helena, the Emperor Constantine’s mother, was lead to Jesus’ Cross by following a trail of basil. Since that day, basil has been considered a holy herb in Greece.
Today the Greek Orthodox Church still uses Basil for sprinkling holy water and some Greeks even choose to bring their basil to church to be blessed! Returning it to their homes, they hang it in the hope it will bless their household with prosperity and health.
Greek basil Characteristics
Greek Basil (Ocimum basilicum var. minimum) is a compact, low bushy annual with aromatic, small bright green leaves– an ideal plant for containers. These dome-shaped plants reach about 20-30 cm in in height and have an equal spread. In summer, the herb develops spikes of small, tubular pink or white flowers.
What Does Greek Basil taste Like ?
Greek basil has a strong basil flavour and is slighly sweeter than sweet basil (the irony!), just delicious in homemade pesto and tomato based sauces!
How To Grow greek Basil
- Greek Basil Seeds can be sown indoors or under glass from March – June
- Sow 1/2 cm deep into pots of free-draining, good quality compost, and place on a warm windowsill. Cover with a propagator lid or Cellophane bag until germination occurs (around 5-10 days).
- When large enough to handle, pot on into larger individual pots.
- Plant out once all risk of frost has passed ** Be sure to harden off indoor raised seedlings first.
What Does Hardening Off Mean?
Plants raised indoors or in a greenhouse environment, need to be acclimatised to cooler temperatures and increased air movement for about two to three weeks before they are planted outdoors permanently. This is a ‘toughening up’ practice to prepare the plants for their new environment.
How to Harden Off
Place your plants out for a couple of hours in a shady part of the garden. The next day, leave them out again for two hours, but this time allow the plants an hour of direct sunshine in the morning. Gradually continue to increase the length of time the plants are in direct sunshine over the course of roughly two weeks.
Where to Plant Greek Basil
Choose a Sunny, sheltered spot in a well drained soil.
Can You grow Greek basil Indoors?
Absolutely! Greek basil will also grow well in a pot on a Sunny windowsill or in a Greenhouse
Should You Pinch Out Greek Basil?
I do! Simply pinch off the growing tip roughly 2 weeks after final transplant to encourage a full and bushy plant.
Greek Basil Care
Greek basil doesnt like to be overwatered, just keep the soil moist and try not to water from above. Water in the morning as evening watering can lead to ‘damping off’
how and when to harvest greek basil
To Keep your Greek basil Looking its best -Harvest by Pinching off the small leaves to maintain the globe shape. Harvest when leaves begin to grow on all shoots, starting with the top, around 6-8 weeks from sowing( May-September).
Why Pick From The Top?
If you pick from the top, Energy is then directed down the stem which encourages side shoots to develop and produce more leaves. *Be sure to harvest all you need before flowers develop
Greek Basil Companion Planting
Good Companion Plants For Basil:
Plants to Avoid Growing With Basil:
how to store Greek Basil long term
Cut away sprigs of basil and hang them upside down in small bundles in a cool, dry, dark environment for upto 2 weeks. Store thereafter in an airtight jar in a cool dark spot
There are 2 ways to freeze Greek Basil:
- Chop up fresh basil leaves and pop them in a freezer bag
- Chop up fresh basil leaves and mix them with other herbs such as Parsley, lemon balm, oregano, rosemary, chives, dill, mint and coriander. Mix in some olive oil and freeze small portions in ice cube trays.
Want To Grow A Herb Garden?
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Want To Grow A Vegetable Garden?
- Lemon Cucumbers
- How to grow Giant Mustard
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