Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Category : Hints, Tips and Tricks
Annual Herb

Light: full sun

Basil is rich, spicy, and mildly peppery -- vaguely reminiscent of mint and clove. Traditional in Italian, Mediterranean, and Thai cooking, the complex flavors of basil blend well with garlic, thyme, and lemon, and complement veal, lamb, fish, poultry, white beans, pasta, rice, tomatoes, cheese, or eggs.

Basil also is compatible with most vegetables. Use fresh leaves for best flavor; to preserve, store leaves in oil or vinegar or freeze in a pestolike mixture.

Medicinal uses:
Basil is a member of the mint family; like mint, it is said to have a slight sedative effect.

To aid digestion, steep leaves in almost-boiling water about five minutes.

Other uses:
In summer, the leaf stalks of basil are topped with spikes of creamy white flowers. The flowers are pretty in simple bouquets. They're also aromatic -- try dropping a few into your bath.

Planting

Cultivation:
Basil will grow easily from seed. Plant seeds 1/8 inch deep in a mixture of fine-grade vermiculite and perlite. They'll germinate in soil temperature from 75 degrees F. to 85 degrees F. About seven days after germination, transplant seedlings to 2-inch pots or into flats.

Plant outside in rich, well-drained soil once the danger of frost is past. Basil is an annual and should be pinched back as it grows to increase yield. Plants will grow to about 2 feet tall. Cut sprigs when the flower buds form and before the flowers have opened. Harvest until the first frost.