Growing Basil
The Romantic Herb

Growing basil in Italy has been a sign of love and romance.

Tradition has been that if a man gives women a sprig of basil, she will fall in love with him.

With more than 150 basil varieties grown world wide there is a lot of love going around.



Sweet basil has taken center stage recently in fine restaurants and the home garden. Growing basil can be planted in pots, flower beds and along side the vegetables in the garden.

All the shapes and sizes of basil make interesting textures and aromas for the garden. Each variety of basil is packed with essential oils that contribute to their different fragrances and flavors.

Basil packs a great array of nutrition.

In 1 tablespoon (6 gm) of dried basil you receive the following.

    11 Calories
    Vitamin A 422 units
    Vitamin K 77.2 mcg
    Vitamin C 2.8 mg
    Folate 12.3 mcg
    Phosphorus 72 mg
    Calcium 95.1 mg
    Iron 1.9 mg
    Magnesium 19.0 mg
    Phosphorus 22 mg
    Potassium 154 mg
    Zinc 0.3 mg
    Manganese 0.1 mg
    Selenium 0.1 mcg
    Phytosterols 4.8 mg
    Total Omega-3 fatty acids 67.9 mg
    Total Omega-6 fatty acids 29.7 mg

Think of your peso sauce as a delicious vitamin and mineral supplement. Because basil is a whole food the nutrients are easily absorb by our bodies.


The Best of Growing Basil

There are so many basil plants you can choose to grow. Each basil offers a different subtle taste and aromas. Some basil is not so subtle with strong spicy aromas. Here are some of my favorites. Hope you give them a try.

    Sweet Basil is the most common with large green leaves with a subtle sweet aroma. Used in peso and easily found in the markets. Grows 12 to 18 inches tall and needs to be pinched back to keep it full and growing.

    Lemon Basil has pale green leaves with a citrus aroma. Grows 2 feet tall with long white flower spikes. This is a nice addition to your flower or herb garden. This basil makes nice flavored vinegar. Use with fish or a nice lemon mint tea.

    Cinnamon Basil has a spicy fragrance that is good in sweet dishes, with fresh fruit. Try with rhubarb or chicken dishes. Grows to 2 feet with pink flower spikes and purplish leaves. This one is a nice ornamental plant.

    Anise (Licorice) Basil has a unique fennel scent that is great made into herbal tea to clam the stomach and ad in digestion. Flowers are pink with green to burgundy leaves. Grows to 24 inches.

    Purple Basil has deep purple leaves with lavender spiked flowers. Has a strong bite in flavor. Grows to 18 to 24 inches. Makes a nice bouquet with your garden flowers and give vinegar a nice color.

    Spicy Globe I love the spicy flavor of this basil. It grows in a nice round compact pattern with white flower spikes. Spicy globe basil makes a nice boarder in the herb garden. This is great basil to grow in pots. I love to use this in spaghetti sauce along with Thai Basil.

    Thai Sweet Basil is pretty with purple stems, veins and flowers with green leaves. Has a nice spicy aroma more subtle than spicy globe. Nice basil for the garden to all color and interest.



Planting Basil

Growing basil plants like moist well drained soils in the flower bed or your vegetable garden in full sun. Basil is a good companion plant for peppers and tomatoes. Plant it between the peppers or tomato plants.

Basil is easy to grow from seeds but does best if started indoors in the spring 6 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Sow seeds directly in small pots 1/8 inch deep.

Basil seeds germinate best in soil temperatures between 75 -85 degrees F. Place plastic wrap over your containers until the seeds germinate in about 3 to 5 days.

After the seeds germinate remove the plastic wrap to let in air flow and prevent damping off.

Plant the basil out into the garden when soil has warmed and all danger of frost has past. Basil likes warm weather so starting to early can inhibit growth and damage plants.

Basil grows quickly in warm weather. To encourage bushy plants and more leaves, prune the growing basil main stalk when they get 6 inches tall. Take stalk back 2 or 3 sets of leaves. Pinch above a set of leaves. New stalks will grow from the leaf nodes.



Harvesting and Using Fresh Growing Basil

You can begin to harvest the leaves and stems of growing basil when the plant reaches 8-10 inches and before the flowers bloom. The flavors of basil are at their best just before flower stalks bloom. Continue to prune basil stalks every two weeks after the plants are established.

Continue to pinch out branch stems leaving at least 1 set of leaves on the stem and pinch off flower stalks before they bloom to promote growing basil to bush out.

Store cut basil in a plastic bag stored in the refrigerator or place cut stems in a glass of water basil can be preserved by drying, freezing or made into pesto.

    Easy Basil Pesto Sauce

    1 cup fresh basil leaves.
    3 tablespoons of pine nuts or walnuts.
    3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.
    2 to 3 cloves of garlic.
    Olive oil.

    Place basil, nuts, cheese and garlic in bowl of food processor. Puree while adding olive oil in a small stream. Add enough olive oil to make a smooth paste. Store in small jar in refrigerator.

Use in pasta dishes, with fish or your favorite vegetables.

To sooth your stomach or promote restful sleep. Brew some basil peppermint tea with honey.

1 small sprig of basil leaves.
1 small sprig of peppermint leaves.

Add herbs to a pint jar. Add 2 cups of simmering water and place a lid on jar and steep for 15 minutes. Pour into cups and add honey to taste.


Return from Growing Basil to Growing Herbs

Return from Growing Basil to Everyday Vegetable Garden


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