Flora Friday featuring Basil aka Ocimum basilicum
After introducing my balcony garden last week, I am now going to feature a different herb or vegetable that I’m growing every Flora Friday. This week I’d like to introduce, Basil a culinary herb from the Lamiaceae family. It is a fragrant herb used worldwide in different cuisines and comes in many different varieties. This versatile herb is an excellent source of vitamin K, A and C, but it is also has medicinal properties. This annual herb is easy to grow in full sun exposure, but can also thrive in partial sun.
There are many different varieties of basil, the most commonly used types are:
- Sweet basil (or Genovese ) is the most common type you’ll find used in North America. It makes the base for a classic pesto and is used most commonly in Italian cuisines.
- Thai basil, commonly used in a variety of Asian cuisines has a distinctly different flavour from sweet basil. With a hint of licorice flavour, it is most commonly added to soups and curries.
- Holy basil, is not used in cooking but rather for it’s medicinal properties. In Indian medicine, the different parts of the plant are used to treat different conditions such as eye disease or ringworms.
- Lemon basil is a hybrid plant that is used in cooking. It’s mild but crisp flavour compliments seafood and sauces very well.
In my balcony garden, I am currently growing sweet basil as I most commonly add it to my Italian themed dishes.
How to grow Basil
The basil plant is a fast growing herb that should be pruned pretty regularly to encourage new growth. The ideal condition is a full sun for 6-8 hours a day, but it will also flourish in partial sun. It grows in warm climates so it will thrive in the ground and in a pot. Cold temperatures can kill your plant so bring it inside during cold temperatures or harvest it beforehand. The herb requires well-drained and moist soil, so daily watering is important to keep your plant nice and healthy.
Regular pruning of your plant will encourage your it to branch and produce more leaves throughout the summer. If you don’t have an immediate use for your harvest, you can:
a) roll the leaves in a paper towel for about a week in the fridge
b) dry them out
c) freeze them for later use