Basil: King of Herbs
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is an extremely popular herb so popular that many refer to this easy to grow annual as King. There are a number of varieties of basiland that may be one of the reasons for its widespread popularity. The three I have grown and use the most are sweet basil, Thai basil and lemon basil.
Lemon basil adds the scent and flavour of lemon to your indoor or outdoor herb gardenand I use it in pesto and for a lemon salmon dish.
Basil and tomatoes are great companions both in the garden and in the kitchen, I grow them together in the same container or plot.
Basil is simple enough to propagate from stem cuttings. I had one plant that I took stem cuttings from, over a period of three years, and was able to create 12 new plants.
I kept three of them and shared the other with friends who also took stem cuttings and shared the plant. This way one basil plant became many in a relatively short period of time.
Taking a stem cutting:
1- Make the cut about 4 inches from the top of the plant where there is vigorous growth. Use a sharp knife. The cutting should not have any flowers.
2- Remove the lower leaves so that about 50% of the cutting is leaf free.
3- Place the cutting into a container, preferably clear glass so you can seeprogress.
4- When the roots develop, usually within ten days, remove and plant incontainer.
Basil does best outdoors in the sun but will do well indoors if you pay close attention to it. It must get enough sun, at least six hours per day, and will demand water.
About five tears ago, I operated a small ( about 300 plants_ basil business for awhile and grew 150 sweet basil, 100 lemon basil and 50 Thai basil plants. I sold to local stores both plants and fresh leaves. The plants were grown indoorsbut the windows were largeand the plants got a minimum of eight hours of sun per day. Watering was the biggest chore.
Basil has a long history; the ancient Greeks knew it and believedbasil was the cure for the bite of the basilisk which had the head of a rooster, the body of a serpent, and the wings of a bat.
Basil was introduced into to North America around 1621 at the Massachusetts Bay Colony and has spread right across the continent since then.
Basil is a principal herb in my pantry and one I do not want to do without. This year there are approximately 40 sweet basil plants in my community garden plot.
The round, often pointed leaves of the basil plant looks a lot like peppermint to which it is related. Its highly fragrant leaves are used as a seasoning herb for a variety of foods