basil season

I love my drought-tolerant herbs, but I couldn’t imagine summer without one that likes a little more water to do well: basil.


Last year, I shared that when I buy a bunch at the grocery I usually cut off the ends of the stems and place them in some water on the counter. Basil hates being refrigerated, and this often keeps the bunch fresh for as long as you remember to refresh the water.


It’s a nice countertop bouquet. But often the stems will begin to root in the water. After a couple weeks or so, once the stems are approaching an inch long, you can transplant the little plants into the garden.

Give them a little shade the first few days to ease the transition out into the real world. If the cuttings are transplanted when the nights are 55 to 60 degrees or warmer, they’ll take off and give you enough basil so you won’t have to buy any more basil for the rest of the season.

You probably won’t know the exact variety of your basil, and you won’t have access to all the varieties you might find in an herb specialist’s catalog. (The Thyme Garden, for instance, lists 29 different basils.) But for all-around tomato-friendly summer cooking, the basil you’ll find in the stores works great.

Last night we had dinner at a local Vietnamese restaurant that served us an interesting kind of mint as part of the meal. We didn’t eat all of it and I pocketed what was left, thinking that what works for basil is sure to work for mint. Since mint has such an ability to take over your garden and your life, however, the new plants will have to adjust to life in pots.

5 thoughts on “basil season”

  1. Let us know if your surreptitious mint works out ok! I just took fresh mint cuttings from our tough old plant a month ago and already the new plant is rivalling the old. Glad I had the sense to plant it in a container, not the ground. I have a strong suspicion that pigeons have been at our basil seedlings and if I don’t cover them tonight I’ll be rooting supermarket basil to replace the lost ones.

  2. Can’t have summer without basil. When it’s at it’s peak, I make pesto, pesto & pesto to put in the freezer, just to keep my Italian hubby happy.

  3. Bird, I’ll post on the mint’s progress. So far so good. They’ll get moved into a pot when they’re ready, definitely not in the ground. I have a tendency to not water potted plants and have almost killed another kind of mint. I hope I can remember these so that they’ll do better. Good luck with your basil. The cutting method gives you a jump start of a few weeks over via seedlings.

    Susie, I’m looking forward to my first batch of garden pesto. As far as I’m concerned nobody seems to put enough garlic in their pesto, so making it myself is the only way to make myself happy. Freezing it is a great idea.

  4. I have gardening friends who keep scissors on their person so they can sneak a cutting when they happen upon a likely specimen, but this is the first time I heard of someone harvesting their doggie bag! Looking forward to your mint update.

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