Flavorful Basils

    • Fuchsias in hanging baskets make beautiful patio plants. They bloom all summer and attract hummingbirds to their pendulous blossoms.
    • When you plant your tomatoes, put a handful of bone meal in the bottom of the hole to help prevent blossom end rot on the fruit later on.
    • Spray roses every two weeks to keep them healthy and prevent leaf diseases. Neem oil is a safe alternative to chemicals.
    • Flower seeds can be sown directly in the garden now. Cosmos, marigolds and zinnias will give you beautiful flowers all summer.
    • Mulch blueberry plants with aged sawdust and feed with cottonseed meal or an acid fertilizer.

Spice up your Cooking with Flavorful Basils

Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family. It is enjoyed for its rich, spicy flavor and is easy to grow in any sunny spot. There are over 40 known varieties of basil though Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown.

Basil plants are small and bushy with attractive foliage that varies from light green to deep green to purple. It is very ornamental in the perennial bed or the vegetable garden, and there are many delightful flavors to choose from.

The sweet-scented basils include lemon, cinnamon, and licorice basil which are named for their fragrances. Lemon basil has an intense lemon fragrance and is ideal for tea and potpourri. It has a very strong lemon scent if touched, and regrows quickly when harvested.

Cinnamon basil comes from Mexico. It has a distinctive cinnamon taste and odor and can be used in sauces and salads. Licorice or anise basil was originally from Persia. It has a licorice scent, dark purple flowers and a purple tint to its leaves. Its branches can be half-dried and then woven into wreath shapes, then decorated with dried peppers and flowers.

Thai basil has a sweet and spicy flavor and aroma. With its reddish-purple stems and pinkish-violet flowers, it is very attractive in planters or in the garden. It is good in both Thai and Vietnamese cooking and is used in salads, soups and curries.

Spicy Globe basil makes a small, dense plant, about 8 inches tall, with tiny leaves that scent the garden day and night with their spicy fragrance. Use the leaves of this flavorful variety just as you would any other sweet basil.

Genovese basil, often sold as Sweet Basil, has extra-large leaves that are easy to harvest. It is one of the best basils to grow because it yields 7 to 8 cuttings and makes excellent Italian pesto.

Dark Opal or Purple basil has beautiful dark foliage that accents any herb bed and makes a lovely garnish. It is recommended for flavoring oils and vinegars. Purple basil combines beautifully in the garden with green and silver-leaved plants.

Holy or Sacred basil, know as Tulsi by Hindus, makes a delicious tea and is attributed with many healing properties. This clove-scented basil is used in Ayurvedic medicine and in salads, drinks, and tea.

Basil is very easy to grow from seed, either started indoors or broadcast outside in the garden after the danger of frost has passed. Basil is very tender and sensitive to frost injury. Fertilize basil sparingly as this decreases the fragrant oils. To encourage a bushy, healthy plant and to maximize production, prune basil every 2 to 3 weeks. Pinch off the flower buds as soon as they begin to emerge since the flavor in the leaves is reduced when the plants go to seed.

Enjoy fresh basil in your salads and pesto this summer, and be sure to dry some for use all winter.

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