How to Grow Basil

How to Grow Basil

Basil is a staple ingredient in our house as we make a lot of Pesto based dishes, especially during the Courgette glut in July. We’ve found a great Courgette Pesto recipe here! We propagate Basil in pots all year round and always have one pot in use while another is growing and whilst this fabulous fragrant herb is easy to grow it can also be super eager to bolt. However, the bonus to that is a ready supply of seeds! (Although a slightly more bitter leaf!)

You don’t just have to grow Basil in pots as you’ll see here and it’s also thought to make a great companion plant for tomatoes (and even better companions for eating!) to keep away the whitefly!

Where to Grow

Basil Herb

You can grow on the window sill, tunnel, green house or even outside; this easy to grow herb is a great one to keep on the windowsill all year round to keep fresh herbs during the winter. If you are growing outside the trick is to beat the frost because if you catch a frost it’ll kill them! Basil doesn’t do well in temperatures below about 5c and it takes eight weeks to mature so you’re looking at the end of May at the latest to get these sown outside as you might find (dependent on your area) that temperatures might dip to low at night.

The alternative is to grow in pots, that’s what we do! That way we can protect the plants a bit more by sheltering them a bit more as the nights get cooler and eventually we move them inside.

Growing and Care

The best way to ensure you have a steady supply of basil is to sow in two weekly succession throughout the spring for outside plants and all year round if you are growing indoors.

You can grow in plug trays individual or if you like A LOT of Basil you can simple sprinkle the seeds over a tray of prepared compost. When the seedlings have their first pair of true leaves (you’ll know when you have them as they look less like weeds and more like a baby Basil plant!) they’ll be ready to handle and pot on.

Once the baby plants have got to around 5cm, for those going into a green house or windowsil, or larger for outdoor planting you can move the plants to their final position. We usually mix in Mushroom compost (because seriously, that stuff is AMAZING and gives every crop we’ve used it on a yield boost!) as Basil like a good rich soil to thrive in.

The Basil you grow in the ground is going to look very different from the pots you get from the supermarket, which is often forced in some way, as they can get quite bushy! So they need a surprising amount of space between each plant. Go for spacing around 30cm apart in each direction.

A note on watering. Whilst these tenderer plants need a fair bit of watering, especially in hot weather as they tend to wilt very quickly, Basil hates being stuck in soggy soil so to test how wet the soil is dig down a couple of inches and if the soil looks reasonably damp leave it alone for another day unless there’s obvious signs of wilt!


The best bit (obviously) is the picking!!

There’s just a few hints and tips for getting the best yield from your hard work! When you harvest your Basil from pots take individual leaves (go for the big ones!) rather than cutting stems as you’ll encourage even more growth. You could also pinch out the growing tips so the plant focuses on growing out rather than up and bolting! Even though we harvest daily we still have far more than we can use so we always have a supply.

If you are growing outdoors before the first frosts arrives and the temperatures dip too low (you don’t want a bitter, or worse dead harvest) so pull all your plants and strip the leaves to dry, freeze or even make into pesto! (more on that coming soon)

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Lovely Lavender

Lovely Lavender

This is my all time favourite “herb”, although technically not a herb I’ve put it in our Herb section because it’s used so often in herby preparations! It feels right! I always have a compulsion to cut Lavender and hang it but I confess it mostly stays hung forever and never used! Hopefully, with this years batch I’ll actually put it to good use!

First introduced to the UK by the Romans it’s said to get it’s name from the latin ‘lavare’ which means to cleanse and it was (as it is now) a popular addition to their baths. It’s also still highly regarded for it’s soothing effects. Even thought to promote sleepiness at bedtime it has also been used to soothe aches and skin conditions.

Uses and theories aside this beautiful plant adds a splash of purples and pinks to your garden and we particularly love it on the plot to keep the cats at bay….not entirely sure it’s the lavender or cat scarer that can take the credit for this but we’re not chancing removing either of them!

It also does an amazing job attracting pollinators to the plot, so if you are using it on the allotment put it near plants that need insect pollinators for a bumper crop!

It’s a great plant for beginners, it’s so low maintenance and doesn’t mind a bit of neglect, aside from a good strong prune, it’ll give you fabulous flowers every year.

Here’s our guide to healthy fragrant, gorgeous lavender in your space:

Where to Grow

Honey Bee on Lavender Plant

Whilst it can be low maintenance, Lavender loves full sun with well draining alkaline soil. Making it also perfect for pots on the patio! They will struggle if they get bogged down in wet soil so don’t worry about watering every day unless you’re dealing with a really hot dry spell.

Not all lavenders are created equal and some are more hardy than others. If you are worried about keeping it alive go for ‘Hidcote’ which will give you beautiful deep purples that will come back every year.

Others are half hardy or tender such as French lavender (Lavandula stoechas) and they are much easier to grow in pots that you can move to more sheltered spots in winter to protect it from frost.

How to Plant

Plant your new lavenders from March to May especially if they are tender. To make sure you give it the best start add some grit for drainage and a bit of bone meal (or vegan alternative) to give it a boost!

Don’t go for general purpose compost if you don’t have to as it can be a bit claggy, John innes no 2 or 3 would work better if you are planting in pots and try and choose terracotta pots for better drainage (and there’s something lovely about old pots we love these!).

Growing and Care


Lavender grows robustly for several years but as the years pass you’ll notice fewer flowers and more woody growth as the plant matures. To keep your lavender in good shape give it a good cut back in spring….but be warned don’t go right down to the woody growth. If you cut down into the woody area it won’t regenerate and that could be the beginning of the end for that plant especially if you’ve cut to much of it down to the wood!

Also it does like a trim after it has finished flowering, but this bit isn’t so bad as you’ll be cutting flowers usually anyway if you are growing to harvest as you just cut it back to the leaves.

That should help keep the shape longer!

Got a particularly loved bush that you want to reproduce…go for cuttings. Take these from non flowering stems or softwood in May. If you do take cuttings make sure you overwinter undercover once they have rooted before planting out in the spring!

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Meet the Joneses

Meet the Joneses

Hey! This is our first post after procrastinating over where to start for literally months. Lockdown and a couple of days away from the day job has given me the opportunity to finally sit down and think of something to say!

I built this blog a good six months ago and have been thinking about what to write for a long time….I’ve got lists of things I’ve learnt and post ideas but got trapped in the cycle of everything had to be perfect to start, I needed a schedule of content to post, my pinterest and instagram had to be on point….I could go on. I realised I was looking at this blog as I used to look at running my business and this isn’t about that. This is our diary, our journey to a happy, free, lifestyle….so stick with me as I start my imperfect post about our imperfect journey!

We’re the Joneses…..It seems like a good place to start. We’re a 2.4 family that apparently everyone tries to keep up with (please note, you don’t need to and please don’t keep up with us). We work full time, and a bit, and both looking for that elusive better balance.

We have got to a point in life where we feel we should have our sh*t together and imagine our surprise when we got here with no more of a clue than in our 20’s, just as much (if not more) debt, working to the point of burnout and dragging two small people along for the miserable ride. We were tired (still are), frustrated and knew something had to change!

When we (ok….I) saw an allotment that had some small plots available at the start of 2019, I saw an opportunity to try something new and after much nagging at Mr J and convincing him (not too well) that this wasn’t something I’d give up after a week, when things got hard, he agreed. Having grown up with a mum who is a keen gardener, I already knew more than I’d realised but when it came to managing an allotment, it was a whole different ball game! But last year, taking on those three little plots has been the catalyst for some big changes in our mindset and our lives. Here’s just a few….

After six years as a freelance business support consultant working 60+ hours a week, I closed my business. I don’t think it’s too strong to say, I’d grown to hate and resent it and was only continuing to keep up with the income goals we thought we wanted at a serious cost to my health, my relationship with Mr J and my relationship with my kids! I now have a job that I love, working for a previous client and I’m off to start my masters in something I love, not for any other reason than I want to do it! Mr J has also had a shift in his career mindset in a way I think has surprised both of us and we’re both working hard on our relationship with our kids.

We’ve started to value experiences over stuff and are much more aware of the effect of our purchases leading to less clutter at home (although we aren’t perfect by any measure and still fall foul to the odd impulse purchase….new tent when the furthest we camp is the back garden – anyone relate?) which has helped us also reduce our debt as well as spending less time with our stuff and more time together.

Our dreams for the future have also shifted in the last year and a half from a big house with new cars and the latest gadgets to a place that sustains us and gives us more freedom. This blog is our journey, our lessons and hopefully the building blocks of our next adventure, we’re looking forward to sharing it all with you.