- Plant Type: Warm season annual
- Sun: Full Sun/Part Shade
- Plant Size: 24 to 30 inches tall, 18 inches wide
- Culinary Use: Fresh leaves in Italian cuisine, especially pesto
Sweet basil, Genovese is a cook’s favorite for making pesto because the leaves are big and it has classic basil flavor. Large bright-green crinkled leaves fill out this fast-growing plant. This is the easiest basil for pesto and the classic for caprese.
Plant Spacing: 18 inches. Plants Per Person: 1 to 2; 3 to 6 for winter pesto.
Secrets to Success »
Basil is very sensitive to cold. Plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed. When flowers appear in mid to late summer, cut them off often to keep the flavorful leaves coming and to keep the plant compact and full. (Blooming stops new leaf growth.) Fertilize with Bonnie Herb & Vegetable Plant Food to fuel new growth.
Harvest and Use »
To harvest, pinch off lower leaves at first then pinch the tips of the growing stems as the plant gets bigger. For a lot of leaves, clip off the top third of stems, cutting often to encourage new growth. Be careful not to cut the woody part of the stem (it's brown instead of green) or the stem won't re-grow.
Rather than storing basil in a refrigerator, place stems in vase or a glass of water on your countertop for easy access and to perfume your kitchen (leaves turn brown in the fridge.) Use fresh Genovese leaves in pesto, salads, pizza, and pasta.
Before frost kills the plant in fall, freeze leaves in freezer bags, in ice trays with water, or chopped in your favorite oil, or in pesto.
Try These Garden Companions »
- A big slicing tomato such as Big Beef, Red Beefsteak, or Pink Brandywine for caprese salad with mozzarella and Genovese basil leaves.
- Mint and parsley to add unique flavor in pesto recipes.
- Parsley and oregano for Italian dishes