Basil is originally native to Iran and India but has made its way across the world into recipes of numerous varieties. From Italian sauces to soups and stews, it is generally simmered into the sauce to get the best taste.
Starting the Plants
Basil does not do well in cold climates as it is a tender, low growing herb. It is very sensitive to the ground temperatures, so is best planted in areas that have a hot climate, or should be grown indoors in pots to protect it from cooler temperatures. It will act as an annual plant if the frost threat is present. The plant senses the cooler temperatures and will wither, possibly even to the death, very quickly. If you have these plants in a hot climate, they will grow and provide you more fresh herbs than you can use – feel free to share with your friends. You might even motivate someone else to begin gardening her own herbs and you can share different ones with one another.
To grow more plants, take cuttings from the existing plant, and suspend them in water until roots develop. Once the roots have started, you can move the plants to your indoor pots or outdoors into an herb garden bed. Once the flowers bloom, it may give you some black seeds which can be collected and replanted next year for new plants.
Care of the Plants
In the right environment, the basil plants will grow from 30-130 cm tall and have silky, light green leaves. Though, in cold climates, it grows better indoors, it is best to have this herb planted as an outdoor plant. The sun and heat from hot summers helps it to flourish well. Indoors, it should be placed on a windowsill facing the sun for as much of the day as possible. If this is not possible in your home, the plants can be grown under fluorescent lights.
Uses of Basil
Scientific studies have shown that the oil compounds from the leaves of basil have antioxidant qualities. It is also used to help relieve stress and asthma. It has been classified as a known carcinogen; however, these studies show that one must consume 100 – 1000 times the normal amount of basil to develop cancer cells attributed to the use of this herb.
Used in many sauces and stews, this is a staple in your kitchen herbs. Like all herbs, nothing takes the place of using fresh herbs. Add this to your herb garden today and enjoy the benefits of spicing your foods with your home-grown herbs!