Basil

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Ocimum basilcum

 

History

Basil is a frost tender Annual. A great companion plant for Tomatoes both in the garden and on the plate.

Growing

Seed should be sown in trays and kept in a warm sunny place such as a windowsill, greenhouse. Seed needs 20- 25 degrees to germinate. Seedlings can be planted out after frost danger has passed, Usually end of November / December. Don’t be in a hurry to get them planted as they will sit and sulk for a long time if they are cold, but will grow quickly if conditions are right.

Seed Saving:  Regularly picking leaves especially the young growing tips will encourage them to bush up and keep producing new leaves rather than go to flower. Basil varieties will cross pollinate (pollinated by bees) To save seed select one variety only let this flower and seed. Harvest seed when Dark brown and dry (If you run your hands along the stem they will easily come off)

Maintenance

Feeding:  Plenty of compost, mulch and moisture will produce healthy plants if it is warm enough. Similar conditions to tomatoes. Be careful of over watering particularly in heavy soils as this can create cold damp conditions which will slow them down or cause them to rot.

Uses

Most commonly used for any food containing tomatoes such as Pizzas, and Pasta sauces. Traditional pesto is also made with basil.

Enhances vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, courgette and capsicums.

Add fresh leaves to salads.

Add to butter for corncobs and potatoes and in omelettes