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Basil: The King of Herbs
One of the most popular herbs is Ocimum basilicum commonly called sweet basil. Often called the 'king of herbs,' basil can be grown indoors or out. Sweet basil has inch-long, oval-pointed, dark green leaves and a clove-pepperish odour and taste. Sweet basil makes a handsome, bushy small plant, growing to a foot or more indoors. A purple-leafed variety, 'Dark Opal' is decorative, makes a lovely houseplant, and is equally useful in cookery. Do not let basil bloom, or it will go to seed. Instead, pinch out the plant tops and they will grow into compact little bushes.
Basil is an annual and grows 12 - 24 inches (30 - 60 cm) as the height varies according to the variety. Cultivation requirements for growing basil: full sun; light, well-drained, nutrient rich, slightly acidic soil; frequent watering (don't waterlog); will not tolerate cold; pinch off flower stalks for a longer season of leaf production.
Basil can be easily started from seed or can be brought indoors at the end of the growing season. If you are bringing basil indoors, choose the most robust plants. Before the first frost, dig them out of the garden and pot them up in fresh potting soil. Basil can also be grown in pots outdoors and treated the same way when bringing them in for winter. Check for insects and if there is an infestation, spray with a soap and water spray. Gradually reverse the hardening off process by keeping the pots out of direct sunlight for about a week. The plants will become acclimatised to the lower light conditions they will experience indoors. Bring them inside and provide the conditions they need to continue growing.
Basil requires at least five hours of sunlight a day to stay healthy and flavourful. If you are growing basil on the windowsill, turn regularly to ensure every side receives light. Don't let basil leaves touch the cold glass. Basil grows even better under fluorescent lights in the winter. Hang the lights 6 inches (15 cm) from plants and leave lights on for 14 hours a day.
There are many cultivars of basil. Two that are particularly popular are: O. basilicum 'Dark Opal'- only herb to win the All American Award of Excellence - can be used the same as sweet basil; O. basilicum 'Citriodorum'- strong lemon scent - nice for tea and with chicken and fish.
In the garden, basil can be planted with tomatoes as it helps to overcome both insects and disease. Basil also repels flies and mosquitoes. In the kitchen, use basil in tomato dishes (both raw and cooked), pesto, sauces, salad dressings, soups, fish dishes, mushroom dishes, egg and rice dishes, mixed with other herbs, omelettes, pasta dishes, vegetables such as carrots, eggplant, cabbage, squash, and zucchini. Use fresh leaves in salads and add fresh leaves to vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Basil can be used fresh, frozen, or dried. Use basil with discretion, as it is one of the few herbs that increase in flavour when heated.
Gwen Nyhus Stewart, B.S.W., M.G., H.T., is an educator, freelance writer, garden consultant, and author of the book The Healing Garden: A Place Of Peace - Gardening For The Soil, Gardening For The Soul and the booklet Non-toxic Alternatives For Everyday Cleaning And Gardening Products. She owns the website Gwen's Healing Garden where you will find lots of free information about gardening for the soil and gardening for the soul. To find out more about the books and subscribe to her free Newsletter visit http://www.gwenshealinggarden.ca
Gwen Nyhus Stewart © 2004 - 2005. All rights reserved
Organic or Chemical Feeding of Plants - Whats Best
A fundamental question in vegetable gardening is - what is the proper use of organic and/or chemical materials? Let's determine the truth of the matter, with four basic principles and a few brief examples from Dr. Jacob R.
Moss on Lawns
Just about right now, we start to see moss on lawns and the plaintive cry goes up, "How do we stop it?"The first thing to understand is that moss is not going to survive in a healthy lawn. The existence of moss is a symptom that the lawn is not in good shape.
Make The Most From Your Vegetable Garden
All your hard work has paid off, and now you are presented with a dilemma, too many vegetables! After sharing your wealth with friends, family, co-workers, neighbors and anyone that happens to come to visit, there are alternative options of what you can do with your extensive supply of tomatoes, zucchini and other bountiful crops that will bring great joy to the community around you.There are many different ways to approach this, the easiest would be to look up in your local phone book for organizations that you could donate your vegetables to.
Lawn Moles and Proper Lawn Care
Are your making mountains out of your molehills? Although lawn moles are underground creatures, the benefits they add to your garden are clearly visible and far outweigh the disadvantages.Of the six species of mole found in North America, the Eastern mole (or gray mole) is the most common.
Palms Everybody recognises palm trees, they are the universal symbol for the tropics but many are hardy enough for our temperate climate gardens. Until recently New Zealand gardeners have had only a very limited range of palms to choose from.
Flowers That Beautify Your Home and Garden
To help gardeners choose flowers, various systems for rating hardiness have been developed. A plant is considered hardy in a region if it can grow and thrive there without requiring special protective measures such as insulating with straw mulch.
How to Grow Hydrangeas
Whether you call them Hydrangea Macrophylla, House Hydrangea, French Hydrangea,, or Mopheads, growing Hydrangeas in the home garden can be an enjoyable experience. They are lovely, whether used as single plants or in mass, such as in a hedge, or border.
Composting and Composters: A Basic Introduction
Why Compost?Recent studies show that an average family throws away approximately 200 pounds of organic kitchen waste every year. Combine this with all the leaves, grass clippings and other organic garden waste accumulated over time and that's a lot of household waste being added to the already mountainous waste disposal problem.
How to Grow Sweet Corn
Purchased corn, whether on the cob or in a can can't compare for taste! Sweet corn is easy to grow in the flower and fruit gardening guides home garden with just a little know how and a few corn facts.Corn needs warm soil temperatures (50° - 65° Fahrenheit) to germinate.
How to Buy a Porch Swing
The Porch Swing is enjoying a surge in popularity thanks to the latest Home & Garden trend towards building "Garden Rooms". Patio Furniture Retailers have responded by flooding the market with so many options that making a choice can be a daunting task.
Feng Shui in the Garden
"The Ancient Art of Placement" called Feng Shui (pronounced phung schway) literally means 'wind' and 'water.' The Chinese believe this cosmic energy, called Chi or 'the green dragon's cosmic breath,' is the life force energy that pervades human existence.
A Teak Chair - Create a Livable Outdoor Space with One
When creating a comfortable, usable outdoor space, nothing could me more inviting and warm than furnishing that space with natural products such as wood. Often, though, there are problems associated with wood furnishings.
Think Vintage for Your Garden
Container gardeners take note. Tired of clay pots? Think vintage, because when you do, there'll be lots to choose from.
How to Attract Butterflies to Your Garden
The flittering of the butterfly through your garden is no accident if you planned your garden carefully. The adult butterfly flitters from flower to flower - sipping nectar from many flowers in your gardens, while other adult butterflies search for areas to lay their larvae.
Mosquitoes in Your Garden? Try Planting These
If you are a serious gardener, you spend lots of time outdoors. And, for sure, you would rather be tending your plants than swatting mosquitoes.
Backyard Bird--The Catbird
It's quiet now.Gone is the constant chatter, whistles and meowing sounds as you jump from branch to branch safeguarding your territory against all trespassers.
Halfway Through Summer - Are We Having Fun Yet
Today is Thursday the 23rd of June and we're almost halfway through the summer can you believe it. It seem to me that you wait and wait to get past the winter (at least here in the Northeast) then some years a wet soggy spring and finally your rewarded with sunny warm weather.
Vegetable Growing for Beginners
If you have never grown vegetables before the first thing that you need to decide is where to plant them in your garden. Most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day although greens can manage with less.
Gardening Tips and Tricks for Late Autumn
Preparing for the Winter Months: Gardening in OctoberWhen you feel that first solid bite in the breeze and you see the songbirds winging their way south, and the trees are bursting with fire-laden hues, you know you can't be spending the weekend curled up by the fireplace with a good book. Not for long.
How and When to Plant Roses
When spring comes and the ground is thawed, it is time to start planting your rose garden. Roses have been a cherished aphrodisiac since biblical times.
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