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How to grow Basil - Farming Tips for Beginners
Basil is a culinary herb, which has been cultivated for more than 5000 years. It is also known as Saint Joseph's Wort and it originates from India, but is prominently used in Italian cuisine, in Taiwanese cuisine and in South Asian cuisines such as Indonesia and Cambodia. There are several types and species of basil, for example;
1. Sweet basil
2. Thai basil
3. Lemon basil
4. Holy basil
5. Cinnamon basil
Now we will begin to ‘grow’ the basil in 5 easy steps!
To begin, one has to choose the kind of basil they want to grow. For example, different types of basil have different advantages;
1. Lemon basil- contains citral, a compound found in citrus fruit, and smells lemon like.
2. Cinnamon basil- smells like the sweet spice and also has beautiful and fragrant flowers.
3. Thai Basil- is the most popular type of basil used in culinary, especially in Italian cuisine.
Before putting Basil out in the container, it is important to start seed indoors first, for four to six weeks before last frost. To do this, flats need to be filled with equal parts of perlite, vermiculite, and peat.
Basil soil preparation needs pressing after that, so that air pockets can be eliminated. After this one to two seeds should be inserted into each container, followed by light covering with soil.
*Tip: Cover the containers with clear plastic wrap and leave in the window with maximum access to the sun. Remove plastic wrap when plants emerge and do not forget to water lightly twice every day.
After two sets of leaves are visible, you can now take basil and plant it into the garden by pinching off the bottom two leaves. By gently turning the container holding the basil upside down and squeezing container until plant falls out the hand, then simply bury the roots and stem, and always pat down soil carefully so to eliminate air pockets.Basil grows well in soil that drains well, and prevents water from standing and causing problems. It also grows well in a fertile soil that has been well dug to allow good soil air circulation. Remember basil requires plenty of sunlight, so position it accordingly. At least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight will suffice.
You will know when to harvest as the plant will mature. Remember to do this step; by pinching off the top two pairs of leaves, after a closer look, at the base of every leaf will be two tiny leaves (they will be growing outwards if the stem growing between them is cut off), cut close to those tiny leaves, but do not damage them.
To keep up the leaves of the plant from being tasty, it is important to try the step of ‘bolting’
Bolting- Soon flower buds will appear and after pinching them, you will be able to dramatically reduce the flavor of the leaves and the foliage which grows.
Health benefits of Basil:
Basil has highly fragrant leaves which are used as a ‘seasoning herb’ for a variety of foods today. Basil has numerous advantages for the human body, for instance, basil protects the body against unwanted bacterial growth. It is rich in vitamin A, which prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, which in the end prevents heart attack or stroke. Basil is also a good source of magnesium, “which promotes cardiovascular health by prompting muscles and blood vessels to relax, thus improving blood flow and lessening the risk of irregular heart rhythms or a spasming of the heart muscle or a blood vessel.”-Journal of Microbiology Methods (2003)
“The unique array of active constituents called flavonoids found in basil provide protection at the cellular level. Orientin and viceninare two water-soluble flavonoids that have been of particular interest in basil, and in studies on human white blood cells; these components of basil protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.”- Journal of Microbiology Methods (2003)