Rooting basil for spring and summer

All gardeners will be very busy now, wishing with their fingers and toes firmly crossed, for better Spring like weather while planting and germinating their seeds ahead of summer planting. I am normally also very keen to plant my tomato, cucumber, courgette, and pepper seeds while leaving them to germinate from my pasta room window. This year I have decided to purchase my seedling plants from local nurseries to save me a little time and because the small flies drive me crazy! I’ll leave the purchasing until Easter time but for now I am concentrating on supermarket basil plants.

Basil plants: Supermarket herb plants always seem dead, lacklustre and under watered. There are only a couple of supermarkets I tend to buy my basil plants from but as I did last year, I will be self-rooting these plants once again so that I can flourish in the aroma of basil for the entirety of spring and summer.

When I say self-rooting what I mean is separating the stems, allowing them to sit in water, root then replant. Here is my method.


  • Take a basil plant.
  • Grab yourself some bottle or jars and fill them with water.
  • Using a pair of scissors, snip each basil stem to the base (just above the soil.
  • Remove the basil leaves from each stem, but make sure to leave 2 or 3 on the top of each stem.
  • Take each stripped stem and place it into your jar or bottle and pop it onto a windowsill.
  • Leave the basil to self-root. This will take around 3 weeks.
  • When you can see the wispy root, pot them up and leave them on a sunny windowsill to grow.

With the leaves that you have removed, you can make pesto. Here is my recipe.


Basil pesto

Basil pesto is one of the more recognised and popular dressings that have been gifted from Italy. Traditional is wonderful but once you master the simplicity of this verdant dressing you can add a few extra flavours such as lemon zest or a change of nuts. I prefer to not toast my pine-nuts but please feel free to (in a dry pan for a couple of minutes). A Ligurian olive oil would be the chosen liquid gold, however, use what you have available, just remember extra virgin olive oil has a strong, peppery flavour.


Preparation time: 5 minutes


70g basil leaves

1 clove garlic, peeled.

30g pine-nuts

110ml olive oil, or as required.

60g Parmigiano Reggiano, grated.

Salt & pepper, to season


  1. I am opting for the food processor method for ease but feel free to use a pestle and mortar for the more traditional feel.
  2. Add the basil leaves, garlic, pine-nuts and grated Parmigiano Reggiano to the food processor.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of olive oil and blitz.
  4. Slowly add the remaining oil until you have a beautiful dropping consistency, you may not need all the olive oil.
  5. Season with salt and pepper as required.


Carmela’s tip: The pesto will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge, topped with a little olive oil or in the freezer for up to 3 months.