Basil is a delicious, green, herb that is often used in Italian cuisine. In addition to being a tasty addition to dishes, it is also a very healthy choice. And there are a number of benefits to the herb, keep reading to find out what Basil is good for.
Basil is a fun and easy plant to grow. It is important that you know how to treat the plant and what it needs to develop and grow properly. Basil plant, as you know it from the supermarket, consists of a large number of small plants. The scientific name is Ocimum Basilicum. The plant is about 30 to 45 centimeters high and is also known as sweet basil.
Is Basil a perennial?
Basil is a perennial that is not winterhardy. If you keep your Ocimum basilicum indoors or in a greenhouse during winter, you can enjoy your it for a long time.
How to grow basil
You can buy a basil plant at the supermarket or in a garden center, or… you can grow this herb yourself. Basil is an easy plant to grow. As mentioned above Ocimum basilicum is a perennial that can’t stand the cold. But, even if you place your Basil indoors every winter day, you will still notice regular reseeding is necessary. You can also propagate the basil plant by cutting.
At the end of April, you can sow Basil seeds indoors or in a greenhouse. You can also choose to sow outdoors from mid-May. Around the half of May, you can also plant the seeds you sowed indoors in your garden.
The soil should be fertile and water-permeable, and next, Ocimum basilicum loves a sunny, but sheltered spot. The plant has an upright habit. When the herb has grown into a mature plant with flowers and is pollinated by insects, it forms seeds when the flowers dry. The small black seeds can then be harvested from the leftovers of the flowers. These seeds are suited for planting for the upcoming years. This way you can maintain your basil plant hobby for years to come.
Basil plant care
Because the basil produces a lot of leaves, it enjoys some extra nutrition, preferably with nitrogen. Basil is also very sensitive to drought. Keep the soil moist, but not soaking wet. The best way to do this is by placing a bowl of water under the pot (with holes at the bottom) so the soil and roots can absorb the necessary amount of water. Change this water regularly to prevent bacteria. If it is not very warm outside, you can give the plant lukewarm water.
By topping the young plants, you get more shoots at the side. More shoots mean more leaves and therefore more harvest.
The basil plants you buy at the store often have a lot of stems. The potting soil in which they are placed does not have enough nutrients to give the plant a long life. In addition, the plant gets a shock effect from their environment to a new environment. If you want to enjoy these plants longer, it is best to replant them into a larger pot with sufficiently fertile soil full of nutrients.
Please also make sure the plant gets enough water but is not soaking wet. It is best to let the plant absorb water by placing the pot with holes at the bottom in a bowl of water. Change this water regularly. If you do not have a large pot, you can divide the plants and place them in two, three, or even four parts in smaller pots, of course in fertile potting soil.
Harvesting basil is easy, there are several ways to accomplish this. It doesn’t really matter how you approach this, your basil plant is quite resistant. You can harvest the stems by cutting them all the way down at the bottom. The plant will sprout again. Another option is to prune just above the bottom 2 leaves. From this stem 2 new stems will arise with new leaves.
You can only keep basil for a very short time. Therefore, it’s advisable to harvest the leaves as late as possible. When cut, you can keep the leaves in a sealed plastic bag for a maximum of one day in the refrigerator. But it’s best to harvest the leaves at the moment you need it. If you want to use this herb in your dishes at a later time, it is a good idea to process it into pesto and freeze it. Drying basil in the oven is also an option, but you lose a lot of flavors compared to the fresh leaves.
Varieties of basil
There are more than 160 varieties of basil. Below is an introduction.
Genovese basil is a cultivar of Ocimum basilicum. This basil variety is the most common one. Basil you buy at your local supermarket is often Genovese basil. The leaf is oval with a pointed or rounded shape. The veins are clearly visible on both sides of the leaf. The flavor is the typical basil flavor which is widely known.
As the name suggests, the lemon basil tastes and smells like fresh lemon. In appearance, the plant is very similar to the Genovese basil with a somewhat more pointed leaf.
Red Rubin basil
This species is quite remarkable with its reddish-purple leaves. The flowers are soft pink, in contrast to the white flowers of the green-leaved varieties. The care of the red rubin basil and the use in dishes is similar to the green kind. The taste is slightly less strong.
The Thai basil has a spicy aniseed taste. The species is less sensitive and somewhat easier to grow than the sweet Basil. The stems of the plant are purple and the leaves are green. The flowers are pink in color.
What’s in a name? The cinnamon basil is a variety of basil with a cinnamon aroma. The plant has purple stems with green leaves and purple flowers.
Bugs and Basil
Amongst other things, Basil and other herbs are pretty suitable for… well, repelling unwanted insects. Read along for some frequently asked questions about animals, bugs and basil.
Do flies and fruit flies like basil?
Numerous herbs make your kitchen unattractive for fruit flies. Basil and some sprigs of lavender in the windowsill of your kitchen, among other things, keep fruit flies out of your kitchen.
Is basil poisonous for cats?
Fortunately not, basil is not poisonous to cats. It is wise to keep an eye on your cat if he or she is going to eat grass or basil, for example, as it is not part of his normal diet. So keep an eye on your cat, there may be something else going on.
Is basil poisonous to dogs?
Also no, basil is not toxic to dogs. You can even give it to them weekly to aid digestion.
Can I feed my rabbit basil?
Just as for cats and dogs, basil is not toxic to your rabbit. So there is no reason not to plant basil in your (herb) garden.
Does basil repel mosquitoes?
It looks like a miracle plant, yes, mosquitoes don’t like the smell of basil either. So place your plants around your sunny terrace, so that you are less bothered by annoying mosquitoes in the evening.
Can I use basil against ants?
We already mentioned it in the article How to get rid of ants. If you are bothered by ants, one way to get rid of them is to plant a herb garden, including Basil.