by Sandy Swegel
Two Ways to Have Basil all Winter.
August heat is hard on basil. The plants keep producing seed heads and as fast as you try to cut them back, new flowers start with the warm weather. Once the basil goes to seed you can still use the leaves, but they often have a bitter flavor.
But there are ways to keep enjoying fresh sweet basil all winter, besides the obvious strategies of drying or freezing the herbs.
Start seeds in a small window box planter now. This planter starts outside and comes into a bright windowsill as soon as temperatures go below 40 or so. Strew an entire packet of seeds over the soil. You will be growing the basil to a size somewhere between micro-greens and full-sized. The seed should germinate quickly and with regular watering, young plants will start to develop and should be several inches high by frost. Once inside, you can cut them down to the bottom leaves with scissors and the young plants will keep regrowing. If it gets really cold outside, you have to move the plants away from the window because the basil will freeze if they are leaning again the glass. If the basil gets buggy with aphids, you can bring the entire container to the kitchen sink and give it a shower.
Mason Jar Basil
If you don’t have seeds but you have purchased one of those pricey basil plants with the roots still on from the grocery store, you can keep growing that plant indoors. These have been grown hydroponically so you can put them in a mason jar with water on a kitchen windowsill. It might wilt for a week or so adapting, but will usually revive. Change the water every week or two. Again, harvest down to the bottom couple of leaves and the plant keeps regrowing.
Other greens and herbs like cilantro and lettuce also do well if you seed containers now and bring them in before they freeze. By winter the plants will be much bigger than micro-greens and will provide you with lots of intense flavor!
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