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basil

Ocimum basilicum
Summer

In Our Garden


fino verde basil
Ocimum basilicum var. minimum
6-8 in.

A very attractive, compact, small-leafed bush basil. Ideal for container gardening or borders. Excellent for cooking and in salads, it retains its sweet flavor even after flowering, 6-8 in. tall plant.

Red Rubin basil
Ocimum basilicum
10-16 in. Tender Annual

The most consistently deep purple leaves of all the basils with minimum green. A fine traditional flavor and aroma along with beautiful lavender flowers make this basil an outstanding culinary and ornamental variety.

super sweet chen
Ocimum basilicum
24-30 in. Tender Annual

A thinner leafed, very profuse Italian large-leaf type basil. Bright green, glossy, savoyed leaves. A slow bolting variety with a strong aroma and good flavor. Very disease resistant and a great addition to any pesto.

In History

Its common name is believed to be abbreviation of the Greek Basilikon phuton, which means “kingly herb.”

In Western Europe it has been thought to belong both to the devil and to be a remedy of witches.

About the herb: Basil is a member of the tropical genus Ocimum, which originated in Africa and was domesticated in India. There are around 165 species in this genus, several of which are eaten.

Ocimum tenuiflorum, known as sacred basil, was originally from Thailand where it was grown around Buddhist temples. Sanctum, the Indian-related variety, is considered holy by the Hindus and sacred to the gods Krishna and Vishnu.

Cultivation

Why Grow It?:
Varieties: the standard “sweet basil” of Europe and North America has been cultivated into many different flavor varieties which include lemon, lime, cinnamon, anise and camphor. Thai basil tends to have an anise-like aroma whereas Indian basil has a more clove-like scent.

Growing Tips:
Basil does well in pots on the patio or in the kitchen windowsill. Water it well at midday, but be sure to not overwater it.

Basil is a good companion plant as it repels many types of flying insects.

Harvesting Tips:
Pick the leaves when they are young, and always choose leaves from the top to encourage new growth.

Why It's Good for You

The main ingredient for pesto, basil is loaded with fragrant essential oils that have been shown to reduce inflammation, which may play a role in helping rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments such as heart disease and psoriasis. Each ¼ cup of fresh basil also supplies over 50% of vitamin K needs important for bone health.

Did You Know

Keep a pot of it in the kitchen to help as a fly repellent or crush a leaf and rub it on your skin to repel mosquitoes.

Let's Eat

How to Store:
If freezing, brush the leaves with olive oil to prevent them from sticking and to lock in flavor. Basil also does well infused in olive oil or vinegar.

How to Prepare:
Basil is one of the few herbs that increases in flavor when cooked.

Tear the leaves instead of chopping them and sprinkle over green salads, sliced tomatoes, or into salad dressing. Basil also goes well with garlic.