Did you know that you can grow and enjoy delicious basil indoors all winter long? Even better, it’s easier than you probably ever thought possible!
When it comes to cooking in the kitchen, fresh basil is a go-to favorite for many home chefs. Pair it with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes, and you create a delicious Caprese salad. But its fresh, aromatic flavor is also wonderful for making pesto, pasta sauce, marinara sauce and more.
Growing fresh basil is a breeze in the summer months. Not only does it grow well outdoors in the garden, but in pots and containers as well. But finding freshly harvested basil through the winter months can be a whole different story.
Although you can freeze basil from your summer harvest for winter use, there is just something about using it fresh that makes it all the more delicious. Unfortunately, buying it “fresh” in the supermarket in the winter is rarely a viable option.
Fresh Basil Isn’t Always “Fresh”
By the time basil makes it to your local supermarket, it is usually already a few days old. And, of course, with every day that passes before its arrival, that super-fresh flavor continues to fade away.
So what is the answer to finding it fresh in the long, cold months of winter? Why growing your own indoors of course! With that in mind, here is a look at the ins and outs of growing fresh basil inside.
How To Grow Basil Indoors – The Simple Secrets To Success
When it comes to successfully growing basil indoors, it all starts with proper lighting. Basil needs at least eight hours of good light to survive and thrive. Without it, seeds have trouble germinating, and the plants struggle to leaf out.
Unfortunately, eight hours of light can be tough to find in a windowsill. In fact, it can be nearly impossible. Especially through the long, dark winter months that seem to drag on forever. The arc of the winter sun is simply too low and short to provide enough lighting for success.
It’s not that basil won’t grow if it only receives four to six hours of light. It certainly can at least survive in a windowsill with less than eight hours of light. However, with those conditions, you’ll likely end up with weak, spindly plants – and a less than flavorful harvest.
So what is a basil lover to do to successfully grow it indoors? Since most home gardeners aren’t fortunate enough to have a greenhouse at their disposal, the answer is to give them supplemental artificial light to keep them growing strong and healthy. And here’s the best part – it’s easy and inexpensive to do!
Using LED & Fluorescent Lighting – How To Grow Basil Indoors
Much like when starting annual vegetable and flower seeds indoors, an ordinary fluorescent or LED shop bulb will provide more than enough light to grow basil. There is simply no need for expensive grow lights or trays when growing basil. (See our article : How To Start Seeds & Grow With LED Lights)
Both LED and fluorescent bulbs & fixtures are easy to find in sizes that fit almost any need or space. They also happen to be quite inexpensive to purchase and operate. That is especially true for LED lights, which can run for mere pennies a day.
Some models, like the clip-on gooseneck LED light pictured above can fit anywhere with ease. Not only will it bend to fit any plant, it also has a timer as well. And with a price tag of under $30, it allows you to grow a lot of basil! Product link : Tri-Head 126LED Clip Plant Lights with Flexible Gooseneck & Timer
Growing With LED & Fluorescent bulbs – How To Grow Basil Indoors
When it comes to using artificial light for growing basil, the lights don’t need to be on all day. In fact, they don’t even have to be on for a full 8 hours if you are using in conjunction with window lighting.
Basil will thrive with basic care as long as it gets eight (8) hours of total light. That can come partially from a sunny window and supplemental light, or completely from supplemental light if you so choose. The only key is making sure plants get around a total of eight hours of light each day.
To use with LED or fluorescent bulbs, simply keep the lights within a few inches of the plants. For hanging lights, this means dropping the lights down near the top canopy of leaves. For side lights, keep them close, making sure to occasionally turn the plants if a portion is not well lit.
Seed Starting Rack Option – How To Grow Basil Indoors
One of the best and easiest ways to grow basil in the winter is with a seed starting rack or stand. If you happen to own one, simply start your basil seeds as you would your vegetable and flower plants.
Not only does a seed starting rack allow for easy growing, you can also use it to grow an entire winter herb garden. Best of all, it is all set up and ready to go when it’s time to start your garden and flower seeds! (See : How To Create Your Own Table Top Seed Stand With Ease)
As the basil germinates and develops, move the lights up, keeping them within a few inches of the top canopy of leaves. Not only do seed starting stands make for an easy set-up, they also make harvesting a breeze as well.
Here is to growing basil indoors this winter, and experiencing just-picked flavor any time you want!
This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. We publish two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. Sign up today to follow via email, or follow along on Facebook.