1 Plant Genovese basil in a sunny location that receives six to eight hours of direct sunlight a day. Basil will tolerate less light but typically prefers at least six hours of direct sunlight.
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2 Space basil seedlings 10 to 12 inches apart in rows or group them for a mass planting. Some prefer to interplant basil with tomatoes.
3 Pinch out the growing tips on Genovese basil when the seedlings are 4 to 6 inches high. This forces the plant to send out new growth along the stem and creates a dense, compact plant. Continue to pinch the basil plant back every few weeks to prevent blooming. Otherwise, flavor will be reduced, as blooming robs the plant of the volatile oils responsible for flavor and fragrance.
4 Water deeply once or twice a week -- moistening the soil to the root level -- or whenever the soil feels dry 1 inch below the surface. Although basil tolerates dry soil, even moisture is preferred.
5 Apply water-soluble fertilizer designed for vegetables two or three times during the growing season. Once at planting time, again by early summer and a final application in mid- to late summer provides the nutrients basil needs. Overfertilization causes rapid plant growth but also reduces flavor.
6 Mulch around basil plants with a 2- to 4-inch layer of leaves or pine needles to conserve water, prevent weeds and keep the foliage clean.
7 Harvest Genovese basil as soon as the leaves are large enough to use.
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