Magazine article Sunset

Basil Bounty: For a Summer-Long Harvest, Plant a Mix of Varieties

Magazine article Sunset

Basil Bounty: For a Summer-Long Harvest, Plant a Mix of Varieties

Article excerpt

Basil and tomatoes go together, especially in summer salads and on bruschetta. That's why we often plant them side by side in Sunset's test garden. (It helps that both plants also thrive in full sun and rich soil.) But when we wanted to grow several varieties of basil for different recipe uses, we grouped them together in a 3 1/2-foot square bed and loved the charming result. Combining different heights and colors gave the planting a richly textured look in the middle of our vegetable garden. And we harvested leaves all summer.

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For contrast and scale, we planted six kinds of basil. 'Genovese', 'Lemon', 'Lettuce Leaf', purple leaf, and 'Thai' fill most of the bed; each grows about 2 feet tall. Mini Greek (which grows to 1 ft. tall) fills in along the bed's edges.

Plant seedlings in rich, well-composted soil after the danger of frost has passed. Apply controlled-release fertilizer to the soil at planting time, and liquid fertilizers twice during the growing season. Water regularly and pinch off flower buds as they appear. Basil leaves are at their culinary best when harvested young. …

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