We planted two different kinds of basil on May 1st. We planted Green Lettuce Leaf basil, from Seeds of Change, and Sweet Petra Dark Red basil from Burpee. Both emerged about 10 days ago, although there are some fairly large holes in the rows of basil. This problem is probably due to the fact that not all seeds germinated.
We waited until May 1st to plant the basil, as basil likes warmer soil. The green lettuce leaf basil has the largest leaf of any basil and the sweet petra dark has a mild, sweet taste.
When the plants are about 2 or 3 inches tall it’ll be time to thin them to 4 to 6 inches apart. The leaves grow in pairs on either side of the basil. When there are 3 leaf pairs, it’s time to pinch the plant back right above a set of leaves. The best time to harvest is after the morning dew dries, but before the heat of the day.
It’s important to start harvesting the basil before the plants flower. Once you see flowers you should pinch them back to two sets of leaves below the flowers. The flowers release a hormone change within the plant that greatly reduces the flavor. Therefore, pruning regularly is important.