Summer is not complete without basil. This wonderful aromatic herb grows well from seed but does not do well in cold or wet conditions during its early stages. This makes growing basil in Brussels quite problematic some years with cold nights or damp conditions. This year looks like a good year.
Basil seeds are quite fine and really do not need to be under the soil. By lightly packing starter pots, sprinkling a dozen seeds on the surface and then very gently flattening the surface, the seeds are good. A gentle spray each day to keep the soil damp is good. Store pots out of direct sun.
Once the starter pots show a dozen or so seedlings it is worth thinning the plants out to about 4 or 5. Potting up from small pots (65mm diameter) to standard small (165mm diameter) and then onto larger pots (230mm diameter) works well. Plants need a good light compost mix with good drainage.
There are a good range of Basil types. Genovese is the most popular for broad leaves good in salads and garnishing. Greek basil has smaller leaves that have a stronger flavour better in cooking. Basil can also be grown as a “cut and come again” salad in trays using the lettuce leaved variety.
People quite often have trouble getting basil to start. Perseverance is necessary. Basil seeds will fail to geminate if the pot dries out and also sometimes if the pot gets drenched with rain. After rain the wet soil can become cold and this stops germination. Trial and error with small pots is the best start.