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The One Essential Kitchen Herb

Basil, (Ocimum basilicum), has been around for a long time and was originally named by Theophrastus (you know, the guy who co-founded and then replaced Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school of philosophy back in 323 B.C.) There are indeed 35 species in the Basil family of plants, ranging from annuals right through perennials and into shrubs. The one Iím interested in though is a tender annual here in zone 4 and is perhaps the most important culinary herb in my repertoire. Iím going to ignore for the moment the other Basil members including O. tenuiflorum, the Hindu Sacred Basil. Sacred Basil is used quite extensively in India during funeral rites as an emblem of good luck and is also used in anti-malarial fumigation. Other species such as O. kilmandschaicum (Camphor Basil) are mostly used for medicinal purposes when treating stomach aches and colds.

Let me give you some easy growing tips. The first is that the seed is extremely easy to germinate. Sow thinly in a warm spot (it doesnít grow well in cold soil). You can abuse this seed in other ways but do keep it warm if you want to see it grow. Barely cover it with soil. If you cover it too deeply, it will not germinate well. Keep moist Ė not swampy. Water with warm water to really bring the seeds along. Grow in as much sun as you can provide. Thatís it. Itís easy and as long as you keep the seeds and developing seedlings warm, theyíll be fine. Sow indoors approximately four to six weeks before you want to plant them outside or alternately, sow outside after the soil has well warmed up. Once the plant is twelve to eighteen inches tall, harvest regularly all summer to keep new tender growth being produced.

Submitted by:

Doug Green

Doug Green, award winning author of 7 gardening books answers gardening questions in his free newsletter at http://www.vegetable-gardening-tips.com.


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