Want your own beautiful basil crop in the home vege patch for summer? Here are the five easy steps to get it and it is all about planting those basil seedlings now. Mmm… Homemade pesto!

Jan Vydra knows a lot about basil.

The Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs (AFLH) Director and Australia’s Young Farmer of the Year is happy to report that basil is flourishing in his paddocks in Victoria and Bundaberg – and it’s ready to top dishes throughout the warm months to come.

The first crop that Jan and fellow AFLH partner, William Pham, cultivated commercially was Basil, so it holds a special place on the farm.

The business partners began with only one crop of basil, and now the company grows and distributes more than 100,000 bunches of various herbs weekly to big retailers and restaurants.

Originating in Egypt more than 5,000 years ago, basil has long been used to enhance dishes around the world. Today basil is mainly grown in Italy, France, Morocco, Asia and Central and South America.

Studies show that basil is an excellent source of antioxidants, with it containing more per serve than most fruits and vegetables.

Basil also has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and pain relieving properties, and is used for controlling blood cholesterol, supporting the intestine, liver, heart and kidneys and relieving stress.

AFLH uses traditional field farming and hydroponic farming to grow its basil. The basil crops are rigorously irrigated and side dressed with organic fertiliser.

As the basil grows it is sprayed with a seaweed mixture to protect against diseases and give the plants attractive, dark leaves. Field basil harvesting occurs from November through to mid-May.

For hydroponic farming – to sell basil all year round – crops are nourished with a blend of nutrients that give the plants everything they need to grow healthy and strong.

Basil can be difficult to grow at home all year round especially in colder climates, but those in warmer climates can have a good as long as it has plenty sunlight.

Following these tips from Jan, you will produce a beautiful basil crop within five to eight weeks.

1) Plant seedlings early to mid November, as basil doesn’t like night temperatures below 10 °C

2) Basil can be planted in a pot or garden bed, but it’s important to have loose top soil around the plant. If you are planting in a garden ensure the position is well drained to avoid damage the plant

3) Ensure the basil has lots of exposure to the sun

4) Basil needs small amounts of water regularly

5) Spread and water in slow-release fertiliser pellets every two weeks until first harvest.

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