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Starting Basil Indoors

How to Start Basil In Your Kitchen

I just got a question from Shaina about how to start basil so she could have fresh herbs in her kitchen.  Basil is an easy one to germinate, or start from seed.  And fresh basil tastes wonderful in so many dishes.  So this one is for you, Shaina, hope this helps:)

First and foremost, you’ll need some seeds!  Below are links to where you can order some of my favorite varieties!  And there are tons of different kinds of Basil!

As I was hunting for links for Basil seeds and looking at pictures of this delicious herb, I began smelling Basil!  I told my family, “Man, all of this talk about Basil is making me so hungry, I am starting to smell it!!!”  Then I walked into the kitchen and realized that my son, Harrison, was eating his breakfast, leftover angel hair pasta with basil pesto mixed in!

This is Italian Genovese Basil. If you sprinkle it right on top of the soil and give it a pat, several little seedlings will pop up, and make a nice green stand of basil babies! Kinda like a Chia pet, but with larger leaves.

This is Spicy Globe Basil. It is the cutest, in my opinion of all the basils. It has tiny leaves and makes a cute little ball that you can clip and sprinkle on everything. The flavor is less licorice “y” than other basils and more spicy sweet. Click the pic to order from Amazon.

If you can’t decide on which variety to try, many companies offer collections of seed, like this one that features Dark Opal Basil, Thai Basil, Lemon Basil, Lime Basil, Italian Genovese Basil, Sweet Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, and Cinnamon Basil. Click the pic to order via Amazon.

This is a set of 5 pots from Ceramo, a company I used to order pottery from when I had my flower shop.  The size is 4.25 inches.  You can also order clay saucers from them. I prefer using a pretty plate and then putting 2 or three pots on the same plate.


You will need a basic potting mix to start your basil seeds in.  There are hundreds of brands and recipes out there.  I have always found Miracle grow to be a good basic mix to start with. Click the pic if you want to order some from Amazon.

Getting Started

Potting Soil Prep:  

One thing that nobody seems to tell you is that potting mix is hard to moisten in the beginning.  It usually has peat moss in it, which can hold a ton of water….but because of that, it takes a while to soak up!  I would advise that prior to planting any seeds………

  1. grab an old bucket
  2. grab an old large spoon or trowel
  3. pour the amount of soil you need into the bucket
  4. turn on some warm water in your kitchen sink
  5. turn the spray nozzle on
  6. gently spray some water into the bucket, being careful not to spray directly onto the soil, because if it’s really dried out, the soil particles might poof into your face and make you sneeze:)
  7. start mixing the soil, to work in the water
  8. add squirts of water until the soil feels moist, and will clump together when you squeeze it…kind of like shortbread cookie dough, or pie crust…still crumbly, but will hold together if you squeeze it.
  9. Once it has enough water, put the soil in the pot
  10. You are now ready to plant your yummy Basil seeds!
  11. Doing this soil prep will make it much easier to water in your seeds after you plant them. Why?  Really dry potting mix tends to float and repel water at first.  If you are trying to get the soil to soak up the water after you have already planted the seeds….think flash flooding of baby seeds and drowning and suffocation of baby seeds…not good:)

What if you Don’t have time for soil prep as described above?

  1. Here’s a cheat.  In plant nerd terms, we call this process capillary action.  Just set the pot that you planted your seed in, in a saucer and fill the saucer with water
  2. Let the water soak in from the bottom, up through the soil, from the drainage hole in the pot.
  3. refill the saucer until the soil appears to be moist on top.  This may take a few hours.

Planting the Basil Seeds

1.  Find a small 4 inch pot.  I prefer clay pots, because they are cute, and because they allow the soil to dry out faster, which helps me to avoid rotting my seedlings from overwatering.

2.  Get your favorite variety of Basil seed

3.  Sprinkle the Basil seeds right on top of the soil

4.  Gently scratch the soil surface to let the Basil seeds fall into place

5.  Water in the Basil seeds with a gentle shower from your kitchen sprayer

6.  Make a mini greenhouse environment for your newly sown basil seeds by

     a. covering the soil with a clear baggy dome, or

     b. you could set the whole pot inside one of those clear plastic lidded spinach

         boxes from the grocery store that acts as a saucer to catch the drips and

         keeps the air humid which will make the seeds germinate faster.

7.  Place your mini greenhouse with your newly sown basil seeds on the top of your      refrigerator, as the bottom heating of the soil from the fridge will stimulate them to sprout.

8.  After they sprout, take the baggy off  or remove the salad container lid and keep them in a bright place.  Away from heat vents and scorching sunlight.  A foot or 2 away from a sunny window would be good to start out.

9.  Once the sprouts get 4 leaves, pinch off the top 2 to get the plant to branch, each place you pinch, you should get 2 new branches right below the pinch. Once those get big enough, pinch and use for cooking, and you’ll then have 4, then 8 then 16 branches and so on. Feed at least once or twice/month and don’t let it flower, so you can get more greens off it. mmmm, now I want to try it!  I think I will be trying spicy globe basil, because it branches so easily and is a nice looking plant, plus, it should have great flavor too.

After all of this talk about planting seeds, I think I am ready to start some of my own for this year.  It seems quite appropriate given this weeks weather of snow, snow and more snow!  Thank goodness we don’t have to wait until spring to start gardening!!!  Check back for updates and maybe even some pics of our planting day. Or follow along on @gardenshapers on Instagram!

Learn How to Plant Basil Seeds from a 7 year old!


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