How To Grow Basil (Zone 9 – Central Florida)

How To Grow Basil

There’s something about basil that makes even plain ol’ Spaghetti taste gourmet. If you’re a beginner gardener like me, I strongly suggest adding this herb to your “must-plant” list because it’s easy to grow and delicious to eat. Plus, it smells divine in the garden. (I wish you could scratch and sniff my picture above. Mmm.)

It’s so simple that I’m convinced that anyone can do it. Yes, I’m even looking at you – the person shaking their head at the computer screen. In fact, basil was the first seed to sprout in my tester egg carton garden that gave me confirmation that maybe, just maybe, I could grow my own food.


How To Grow Basil

What seeds did I use?

I used the Ferry-Morse organic sweet basil seeds. Overall, I was very pleased with the quality of these seeds – most sprouted!

How did I plant the seeds?

I started my first crop of basil seeds in egg cartons as shown above. Once the plants were several inches tall, I transplanted them into a garden bed filled with mushroom dirt mixture. Below is my first row:

Garden bed of basil

I recently started my second round of basil in a large pot of soil on my patio. If you just want several leaves a week for Italian food, a potted basil plant is probably all you need. If you want a bigger crop to make pesto, freeze for winter, or to share with friends, go ahead and clear some garden space. Basil is a sturdy plant that does well in either environment.

Also, I learned this herb LOVES rain. My plants grew like weeds during the rainy month of September.

How long did it take from seed to salad bowl?

It takes about 4 to 6 weeks for the leaves to grow big enough to harvest. The picture below is from early September, so right at the 6 week mark.


How do you harvest basil?

Similar to mixed greens, you harvest the basil leaves as needed while leaving the plant in the ground. The instructions on the seed pack says to remove all but 2-3 on each branch. I found that as long as I plucked leaves off evenly around the plant, it thrived.

How do you prepare basil to eat?

Once I harvested the leaves, I would soak them in a bowl of cold water to remove any dirt. As far as cooking is concerned, the possibilities are endless! Below is my Dairy-free Pesto and here is a link to my favorite “Skinny Pesto” from

Vegan Pesto

Jane’s Basil Review

Gardening skill level: Easy

Seeds: Ferry-Morse Sweet Basil

Garden space & soil: Partial sun, mushroom dirt mixture

Pest control: None

Seed to salad bowl (growth): 4-6  weeks

Washing: Soak in cold water

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses basil? Please leave it in the comments and I’d love to try it out!


  1. Hello! My name is Emily and I am as much as a beginner as you can get! I am just curious if you recommend basil for a very small garden. Also how far apart should I plant each one when they are growing?

    • Hi Emily! Yes, basil is sooooo easy to grow. The biggest mistake I made at first was planting basil too close. Make sure you give them breathing room of a foot or so. If you don’t have the room for that spacing, make sure you trim the leaves often so they don’t grow into one big leafy mess. (That’s when the bugs and issues arise.) Good luck!

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