How has the challenge been for you so far?

In our fifth week, your basil has hopefully started to sprout like Collette's. Has it got as tall as Kelly’s? Or are you just seeing the heads like in Alfie’s photo? Wherever it’s at, here are some tips for nurturing and growing your basil.

Tall and thin? Keep plants bushy and productive by pinching the tips of branches regularly and remove any flowers that start to develop. Pick the leaves and tops of basil regularly. You can be quite ruthless, so long as you leave at least three pairs of side shoots so your plants can regrow. Don’t wash the leaves until you’re ready to use them as they’ll turn slimy. If only a few leaves are required, remove the tops of plants to encourage bushy growth.

Mould appearing on the soil?  Always water with care, ideally before midday, and avoid splashing the leaves. Basil hates having wet roots overnight, so aim to water plants in the morning if possible. Basil isn’t as thirsty as some plants, so a little mist might even be enough.

Getting too busy or big for the pot? When seedlings are big enough to handle (have developed their first true leaves (ignore the rounded seed leaves) pot them on into individual pots filled with a peat-free, soil-based compost.

Still very small? Your basil will grow at different rates; you’ll see this even in the ones you’ve sown! Remember to keep it warm and in a bright place. Share your tips in our Facebook Group or ask fellow green challengers for tips!

We love seeing and sharing your photos, you can email them to us or send them via WhatsApp and we’ll add them to our Green Challenge gallery.

Next week Rustie will be back with a final basil recipe for you to try: Rustie Lee’s Patties. You can find the shopping list online below and remember to check what you already have in the fridge and don’t be afraid to swap items! For example, if you have some leftover peppers - use that instead of buying a courgette.

Rustie's Basil & Veg Patties Shopping List

  Onion 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  Salt and Pepper
 

If you hadn’t realised yet, this Green Challenge has a strong focus on encouraging growth. Both the growth of your basil seeds but also you as a cook, gardener and a member of your community.

You’re doing amazingly! Just look at your basil and all the dishes you’ve learnt how to make.

You can now tick off week 5 from your calendar and give your basil plant a little hi-five.