Sunday, August 28, 2011
*Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
*popular culinary herb
*a good fly and mosquito repellent
*my favorite thing to eat!! :)
*Leaves, preferably fresh
*propagate by seed: do not plant seed directly into soil until the ground is warm. For an early start, plant in seed trays/flats in greenhouse environment
*water well at midday but not in the evening to avoid dampening off or root rot
*this plant is frost sensitive
*pinch off flower heads to promote a bushy appearance and productivity
*if you allow the plant to flower, it stops growing and the basil loses its' flavor, so keep those flowers pinches off!
*harvest mature leaves at any time for fresh use
*to dry leaves, cut bushes at base and hang out of direct sunlight. Store in airtight containers in a cool place. However, dried basil should be avoided when possible because it loses its' color, taste, and nutrients quickly
*it also works to freeze the leaves: roughly chop the leaves and place in ice cube trays. Cover with water and freeze. Store the basil cubes in a plastic sealed bag in the freezer. This is the best way to preserve them, but only works for stews/soups in this manner. Simply plop the basil cube into your stew/soup.
*it has mild sedative properties
*if made as a tea, it is good for nervous irritability
*good for digestion
*does anything need to be said about the cooking potential with basil? It's hard to start describing what to do with basil: any Italian or French cooking with benefit with basil. Also makes a great salad addition, pizza topping, addition to soup/stews, etc.
*plant near tomatoes and pepper plants because it keeps them pest free and increases their flavors
For additional information, see: references and warnings