One of the reasons I started an indoor herb garden was because I absolutely love fresh basil. So I wanted to figure out everything there is to know about growing basil! The reason for the indoor aspect is because I live in an apartment, and have no growing space. You might think that this would be a deterrent, but I also really like efficiency - and there is nothing more efficient than finding a way to grow fresh food in a very small space. Besides that, with an indoor garden, you will not have to spend too much time for other activities, such as mowing with a lawn mower, or aerating... It will be a good choice if you don't have too much time.
You might think that growing basil is challenging - but it is surprisingly simple. My biggest mistakes come from the following three areas - not giving it enough water or giving it too much water, not giving it enough sun, and trimming too much when its time to harvest. That last part is really just a weakness of mine...especially when it comes to pesto, I tend to take too much basil - I just can't resist!
Alright, growing basil in a pot is probably the simplest way to do things. You want to keep a few things in mind though - get a larger pot than you think is necessary, as it responds very negatively to being repotted. I suggest a 12×12 pot for 1 basil plant - these things grow big, and fast! You want your basil plant to be of significant size so you can harvest regularly enough basil for your cooking. Your choice of pot will be influenced of course by the space you have available - just keep in mind that standard size for one plant.
The second most important thing you want to keep in mind is drainage. This is pretty much a standard across all herb gardening. Herbs are delicate plants - they respond to stressful situations in a bad way. If you trim too much off a basil plant, you may need to start over entirely. The same goes for if you need to re-pot basil - it does not respond well to the stress and you will likely need to start again. Fortunately keeping a potted plant drained properly is quite simple. All you need is to fill the pot with good soil, and make sure it is fitted for draining. Beyond this, just check the soil each day for dampness - if it is dry, give it a little bit of water. In the beginning I recommend simply checking frequently throughout the first few days, giving only a couple cup-fulls of water at a time - eventually you will have a good understanding of how much water it uses every day and how much you should give.
The third, as previously mentioned, is sunlight. This is simple, but can also be quite difficult. My current apartment - for example - receives direct sunlight for about 8 hours during summer, and probably half that during winter. For the summer months that is plenty - during the winter however I need to supplement (and during cloudy days) with artificial lighting. Artificial grow lights are quite simple - I'll be writing up an article on these in the future.
The final most important aspect is how to harvest the basil. This is actually quite an overlooked point - and one where I have made mistakes frequently. When you harvest the basil you don't want to pick too much overall, but you also don't want to pick too much of one type of leaf. The two types that you want to concern yourself with can really just be looked at as the big leaves and the small leaves. The small leaves are the ones at the top of the plant. You want to pick these because that encourages growth. You don't want to pick all the small leaves though, because that can stunt growth. The larger leaves toward the bottom act like solar panels for the plant, so you don't want to pick all of those - however it is healthy for some of those to be picked as well. A good guideline is to look at your plant, and pick half the larger ones and half the smaller leaves and nothing more. This is the prime reason why you may need more pots/plants than you might originally think - it all depends on how much you use the basil in any case.
Growing basil is a rewarding and delicious experience. It is also quite easy. Just remember to keep in mind the three basic areas. Make sure your growing pot is large enough for the plants you wish to have - moving the basil after it has taken root is one of the quickest ways to kill it. There are of course other options such as hydroponic and hanging solutions, but the easiest place to start is with a pot. Make sure you provide the basil with enough water, but not too much - and that the water drains properly so the roots don't rot. Be sure to provide the proper amount of sun, and take care when harvesting in the end. Ultimately, you will be providing a wonderful addition to your indoor herb garden.
I'm an owner of a small gardening shop. I love gardening, especially lawn care. I can spend all of my free time taking care of my lawn and discuss about lawn care experiences with my friends, who have the same hobby as me. www.lawnmowertips.com is a playground of us, where we can discuss everything about lawn care techniques.