Basil

We are talking about the common basil plant we all know and love, aka Sweet Basil, Italian Basil, that stuff growing over there in the garden basil… whatever you call it, we all think pizza and pasta when we smell the aroma.

How to Grow Basil:
Basil is very sensitive to cold, so the best growth is seen in hot, dry conditions. In most parts of the country, this means summertime. However, in warmer zones, such as the southern part of Florida, these conditions are best met during the winter months.

Although basil grows best outdoors, it can be grown indoors as well, in a sunny window.

Picking the leaves off the plant helps promote growth. The more you harvest, the more will be produced. Just remember to never remove ALL the leaves at once.

If basil’s leaves have wilted from lack of water, it will recover if watered thoroughly and placed in a sunny spot. Wilted leaves will most likely fall off in a day or two but the plant itself will recover.

Yellow leaves near the bottom of the plant indicate that the plant is under stress – {it may need less water or more/less fertilizer}.

Once a stem produces flowers, foliage production stops on that stem – to prevent this pinch off the flower stems before they are fully mature. Blooming not only stops growth on that stem, it also changes the flavor.

If the plant is allowed to flower, it may produce seed pods which can be saved and planted the following year.

How to prune basil to make HUGE plants:
When you see 2 leaves form at the tip of the plant, cut about 1/2 inch below them. When new branches grow and you see 2 leaves form, cut about 1/2 inch below them. Continue and you will have a very bushy plant!

Culinary Use:
Commonly used fresh in cooked recipes – Generally added at the last minute as cooking destroys it’s flavor. Basil is one of main ingredients in pesto.