A common cooking herb and garden favorite, basil is a perfect backyard plant for the summer months which can be planted just after the last frost day of the year. Lucky for us Phoenicians, basil will take us into much of our fall and winter months.
This herb is classified with the mint family where you will find other neighborhood garden favorites such as oregano, lavender, sage, rosemary, and many others. Basil plants will produce abundantly in sunny and warm temperatures and not only do they give off a rich green look, but an aroma that will keep your backyard or kitchen smelling fresh!
When choosing a space to begin planting, the area needs great drainage, this goes for outdoors and indoors if using a pot or container. If you decide to plant basil from a plant or seed, you again need to do so at the warmer months of year as this plant doesn’t do well in cooler temperatures.
Keep in mind the care for a basil plant, the typical plant will grow rapidly if you are grooming your plant occasionally. You want to prevent your plant from the blooming stage, where small white flowers appear at the end of your plant. (Example shown to left)
During this time, the flowers indicate that your plant is going into the seeding process, which leaves your existing basil leafs with fewer flavor. Freshness will return to the plant days after removing the flowers.
When harvesting your basil plant, you can do so as needed and as stated above, it’s best to do as often as possible! Whether you harvest in small or large quantities take leaves from the top of the plant and never a whole stem at once but rather spread out the area you are picking from.
In short, groom basil regularly to assure the growth of your plant as well as be sure that you are always using the freshest leaves in your next meal!
When cooking with vegetables and herbs grown just outside your door, basil is a great plant to keep at reach. Most popularly used in Italian dishes, basil is a tasteful herb that adds a zest of flavor to any pasta dish, pizza, dressing, or sauces and soups!