As an attractive, fragrant herb. Whether you grow it indoors or out, basil can be cultivated in different forms and is a great plant for the kitchen. The smell of basil can be used to add flavor to dishes, but did you know that if grown correctly it could have many other benefits? Basil has strong roots and will grow just about anywhere! It doesn’t matter what soil type or amount of sunlight there may be-if only get enough light during its growing cycle then this humble herb deserves an opportunity at life here on Earth so follow these tips when planting your own pots full of happiness:
Here are some tips on how to grow basil plants throughout the year.
Find some space in your yard to plant the basil. Basil will grow in most soil conditions; however, it is best to pick an area that gets plenty of sunshine. Basil grown in areas with shade or areas without ample sunlight will oftentimes not produce as many leaves and stems, which can lead to a smaller harvest than desired.
Select the kind of basil you want to grow.
Basil plants are classified by their growth habit. Basil plants that grow upright are called ‘Indeterminate’ while basil plants that produce more leaves throughout the growing season are called ‘Determinate.’
What time of the year should I plant basil seeds?
Basil seeds require temperatures of 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit to germinate, so wait until late May or early June in areas where Basil does not get a lot of winter chill. Basil seeds can be planted directly into the soil. Basil seeds that are planted too early will germinate but then die from frost before they have a chance to produce new leaves.
Tend to your Basil plants daily. Basil is a very hearty plant and needs little attention after it has been planted. Basil likes moist soils and bright sunlight, but only water Basil plants during extended dry spells and do not over-water the plant as it can lead to mold or mildew. Do not fertilize Basil plants until they produce their first set of flowers. Basil is a heavy feeder and will require nitrogen-rich fertilizer added to the soil at least once a month until Basil finishes producing its flowers and seeds. Basil plants typically grow to about 24 inches tall and the leaves should be picked as needed throughout the growing season. Basil can stop producing new leaves if it is allowed to flower, so keep Basil pruned back by removing the oldest branches at the base of each plant or cutting them off just above the soil level.
Culinary Uses for Basil
Basil is the king of herbs. Not only does it add a delicious and unforgettable flavor to your favorite dishes, but basil also has many other culinary uses! For example:
- Use fresh or dried leaves in marinades for meats such as chicken breasts (or any meat). Simply mix together with olive oil, Worcestershire sauce , soy sauce etc., then shake well before applying onto food item – this helps protect against spoilage due exposure by bacteria during handling/preparation times
- To preserve fridge space use an ice cube tray filled about 1/4 way up w /water mixed w /basil- just freeze until solid then pop out & store in plastic bags- handy for soups/sauces/stir fry’s etc.
- Basil can be used in cupcake or puff pastry recipes to add a pop of color, taste and aroma to any dish! It is also good simply fresh & sprinkled on top of chocolate mousse cakes for example…
- If you have an herb garden, switch up your usual cilantro/parsley/chive routine & try out some basil! It’s delicious & can be used in so many recipes…
- Basil leaves are great for garnishing food. Organic grape tomatoes wrapped w /basil leaf before dipping into batter to make your own “Battleship Potatoes” (a random but tasty French fry variation) or for easy & fast appetizers, use puff pastry to make pinwheels w /cream cheese & basil- simple!
- Basil’s fresh leaves are also great to make your own pesto – a very Italian/Mediterranean way of preserving the herb. For example, simply put fresh basil leaves into blender with garlic cloves, pignoli nuts, parmesan cheese & olive oil to make your own pesto sauce.
- Add basil leaves while cooking pasta water to add a flavor kick to your next spaghetti dish!
- Thinly slice fresh basil leaves and use them in place of lettuce on sandwiches/wraps . The freshness will give it that extra zing!
- When cooking any Italian dish, use fresh basil leaves or dried to add that extra tasty zing.
- To keep your kitchen smelling great, try putting some dried basil leaves in a bowl of water on your counter- it will release its scent into the air (and improve the overall smell of your house!)
- If you want to make your own herb scented candles, simply mix together dried basil & pine needles and put into a glass jar. Then light the candle and let it burn for 45 minutes – 1 hour per day until you fill your house with that great scent!
- Basil is also good for gardening – if you want to attract bees so they can pollinate your garden
Other facts about basil
- Basil can be used to repel insects or keep away bugs that may try their luck in your house.
- You can chew basil leaves before big exams to calm your nerves and clear your mind, so you’ll absorb more information and do well.
- Basil is a great source of iron and calcium. This means it’s really good for you.
- Don’t store fresh basil in the fridge because it will wilt too quickly without its natural oils.
- You can freeze most herbs, but avoid freezing basil because it will turn black. You can dry most herbs, but avoid drying basil because the taste won’t be as good. This means that freshness is optimal for this herb.
- Other Names: Thai Basil, Sweet Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, Bawa Kaphrao aka Holy Basil (Thai), European Basil. Scientific Name: Ocimum basilicum
- Origin: India, China, and Southeast Asia.
- Season: Basil is considered a tender perennial but can be grown as an annual pretty much anywhere in the USA and other mild climates.
- Basil does not come from Thailand or Mexico as some sources suggest, those are just varieties of basil that grow well there. The word basil comes from the Greek word basilikon which means “royal”.
- In India, there are many varieties of basils used for various purposes from religious ceremonies to cooking. It is the national herb of Thailand and their name for it is baw kaphrao บะห์เก(p)เพรา, which means “holy basil”.