Whether you start with the basil seed or bought basil in a pot: at some point the question arises as to whether and how the popular herb can be propagated. With our practical tips, the basil care and the preservation of the plant succeed.
Make more out of one thing: multiply basil
Herbs such as basil are often offered in pots in the vegetable section of the supermarket. The idea behind it is tempting: you can always pluck off a few leaves, for example to season your tomatoes with mozzarella or to prepare a delicious basil sorbet. The plant grows and thrives, so you always have fresh supplies of the herb in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the reality very often looks different. Despite good care of your basil in the pot, the herb will die after a few days. A major reason for this is that the vessels offer far too little space for the plant. It is best to divide these into three pots – this way you can multiply the basil at the same time. Another important point to conserving the herb is that you harvest basil properly. Instead of plucking off leaf by leaf, cut off individual stems with the leaves above a leaf axil. This allows the plant to develop more side shoots in these places. By harvesting the shoot tips, you also prevent your basil from flowering and thereby reaching the end of its life.
Propagate basil with cuttings and seeds
The stems can also be used as cuttings to propagate basil. To do this, remove the lower leaves and place the shoot in a clean, water-filled glass in a warm place – but avoid blazing sun and change the water daily. If long roots have formed after about ten days, plant the cuttings and you can soon harvest the first leaves. You can also grow basil in a bottle instead of in a jar. This has the advantage that the cutting hangs freely in the water and the roots can develop unhindered. If you don’t want to put potted plants in the kitchen, you can of course plant your basil like many other herbs on the balcony or in a bed in the garden. To do this, let one of your basil plants bloom and collect the seeds for sowing next spring.
Which products can be made from fresh herbs?
Herbs can not only be used to season dishes – numerous other products made from fresh herbs can also enrich everyday kitchen life. How about homemade pesto, herbal oil, or tea?
Fresh herbs are particularly good for these foods:
- Homemade pesto can be made from basil in combination with garlic, parmesan, pine nuts, and olive oil.
- Basil, parsley, lemon balm, marjoram, sage, borage, tarragon, or fennel combined with salt, onion powder, or paprika are ideal for preparing a tasty herbal quark. Similarly, you can make herb butter, herb lard, or all kinds of dips yourself with the help of fresh herbs.
- If you scald nettle, dill, or wild garlic with hot water and then mix them with a cheese mixture, herb cheese can also be made from fresh herbs.
- Herbal oils can also be obtained from dill, thyme, and rosemary by adding tasteless sunflower or wheat germ oil. To do this, the fresh herbs must first be washed and carefully dried. Ideally, you buy fresh twigs for this purpose, which you let dry overnight and only then process them further. Put the properly prepared herbs, chopped up or as a whole branch, together with the oil in a tightly sealable bottle. Store the bottle in a dark place, after about two to three weeks you can enjoy spicy herbal oil.
- You can also make herbal tea yourself: nettles, peppermint, fennel, or lemon balm are particularly suitable for this, but Mediterranean herbs such as thyme also taste good as tea. For a tea infusion, you can use the herbs fresh or dried.
You should pay attention to the soil and watering
Do share potted plants and cuttings only in peat-free, well-drained soil. Potting soil mixed with some sand is well suited. As a heavy feeder, the herb also needs a lot of nutrients, so work in some compost or coffee grounds right away and fertilize the basil regularly later. When watering, you should definitely avoid waterlogging. Water the seedlings about as much water as will fit in about ten percent of the pot each day. Cared for and propagated in this way, basil often lasts for years.