Backyard Gardening: Basil
Basil has got to be one of my FAVORITE herbs. For me, it's easy and incredibly cheap to grow and harvest, lasts all growing season and is really tasty!
Not many people consider basil a medicinal herb...well, I'm here to change the way you look at this beautiful multi-talented plant.
Botanical Name: Ocimum basilicum
Common Name: Italian Basil, Sweet Basil
Sun Exposure: Full Sun Soil Type: Loamy, well drained Hardiness Zone: 4-10 Feeder Type: Heavy, organic matter
Genus: Ocimum Family: Lamiaceae, mint family Type: Herb, annual
Companions: Tomato, peppers, oregano, petunias, asparagus Adversaries: Rue – Ruta graveolens, sage Constituents: Aromatic volatile camphoraceous oil Actions: Antispasmodic, aromatic, carminative, stomachic, vermifuge, galactagogoue, refrigerant, expectorant
Brain & Nervous System - Headaches (rub on temples) - Mild nervous disorders
- Improves memory & mental fatigue
- Head colds (use as tea) - Uplifts mood/anti-depressant stimulates adrenal cortex to regulate natural response to stress
Gastrointestinal - Constipation & cramps - Vomiting, nausea - Gastric/Intestinal catarrh, diarrhea, settles the stomach
- Improves appetite
- Intestinal parasites
- Colds, fevers - Whopping cough
- Fights bronchitis
- Hay fever
- Cleanse womb & expel afterbirth
- Regulate menstrual cycle
Other - Draws out poisons, insect bits, skin infection
- Insect repellent
- Jet lag
- Lowers uric acid responsible for arthritis & gout as well as the pain and inflammation associated with this
Nerding out moment: Basil has large quantities of something called E-Beta-CaryoPhyllene or BCP. This active ingredient stimulates the body's naturally cannabinoid receptors that in turn block inflammation that is associated with arthritis. As a result, it's been proposed that basil may be useful in treating diseases like arthritis and/or bowel disease.
There are TONS of preparations for basil. Besides making a beautiful caprese salad here are a few more preparations:
- Basil Infusion: Enjoy hot or cold. Add freshly muddled basil leaves, strawberries, blueberries, lemon and ice!
- Make a quick poultice for bug bites or warts (applied daily)
Cautions: No known interactions
Fun Fact: There is an estimated 50 – 150 species of basil. Thai basil, purple basil, lemon basil are a few more commonly known basils
Fragrant and easy to grow
Stronger when used fresh
Used as a culinary herb and is well known in Italian cuisine
Full plump light green leaves, hardy stem and small white or purple stacked flowers depending on species
Start seeds indoors 6 weeks before last frost with plenty of sun
Outdoors 6-8 hours of sun with moist and well-draining soil – Thrives in pots, water frequently
Plant seedlings in ground ¼ inch deep in high heat day time.
Soil should be around 21ºC for best growth
Plant 10-12 inches apart as they will grow about 12 – 51 inches in height
Tomatoes are great companions to repel pests such as flies and mosquitoes
Plant away from high traffic areas if herb is intended to be used in cooking
Pests: Aphids/Plant lice, flea beetle, Janpanese beetle, nematodes, leafminers, slugs/snails
Bacterial and fungal leaf, stem and root diseases:
IE: Fusarium wilt, pythium (root rot), botrytis cinerea/gray mold, black spot, etc.
Keep soil moist & ensure drainage. For hotter areas use mulch to keep the soil moist
Pinching where new growth is starting will encourage growth
Let plant recover after harvest before doing it again
Pinch off the center shoot after 6 weeks to deter premature flowering. If flower heads do appear, remove from plant
Yellow leaves indicate stress. Could be too much water/fertilizer – monitor intake
60- 90 days. Propagate from cuttings, store in water until root develops
Freeze and store basil by rolling several freshly washed and dried leaves together into a cylinder shape, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer bag for individual servings
Drying basil: Remove leaves from stem and place in ventilated shaded area for 3-4 days until completely dry. If not dry, place leaves in oven on the lowest setting with the door open. Turn leaves and check on them frequently until fully dry
So there you have it! Plant that basil!!!!
Ninetta (Nina) Savino
Giacomo (1934) & Guisippinna Savino (1938). Born in Pietrapertosa, Potenza, Italy
Wikipedia (2014, September 13), Basil. Retrieved from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basil
Hoffmann, David. “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”, (2010-12-15), p.337, 577, 589
The Old Farmer’s Almanac (2014, September 11), Basil. Retrieved from www.almanac.com/plant/basil
Herb Wisdom (2016, April 19), Basil.
Retrieved from http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-basil.html