Basil is an attractive herb that comes in many varieties, including Sweet Basil, Spicy Globe, Holy Basil, Perennial Basil and Purple Basil. Basil varieties differ in shape, colour and flavour and are used in a wide range of cuisines all around the globe. This versatile herb is also a very popular choice for backyard vegetable gardens as it is relatively easy to grow.
This warm season crop is not very tolerant of cold weather and is commonly grown as an annual, or a short lived perennial in warm climates. Basil grows best in soil that is well draining and rich in organic matter. In cooler regions, it is best planted in a full sun position. In warm regions, it will benefit from part sun or some afternoon shade.
Basil is a low maintenance herb that can be grown in pots and can even be kept indoors on a sunny windowsill. Basil is not a heavy feeder, good quality soil with some organic fertilizer mixed through is generally enough to keep the plant happy. Basil plants produce beautiful white flowering stems that typically appear from mid summer. For increased productivity, pinch off the flower tips as they appear, by doing this the plant can focus its energy on producing new leaf growth rather than flowers and seeds. Since Basil flowers are extremely popular among pollinators, a handy tip is to plant one or two plants for your own use and one that can be left to flower for the pollinators.
In the kitchen, this tasty and versatile herb can be used fresh in salads, added to pasta sauces, pizzas, stir-fries, pesto and curries. Sweet Basil varieties are commonly used in Mediterranean cooking, while varieties with a more pungent flavour are typically used in Asian cuisine.
Basil can be easily propagated from cuttings, so if you have recently purchased a bunch of Basil, put a few sprigs in a glass of water, place them by a sunny window and wait for the roots to develop! These can then be planted straight into your vegetable garden.
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