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Basil Fact Sheet
by Monica Resinger
Name/Botanical Name: Basil, Ocimum Basilicum
Description: A highly flavored tender annual herb that is used in many
dishes. Sweet basil can reach 2-3 feet tall. It attracts butterflies
and beneficial insects to the garden.
There are many different varieties of Basil such as lemon Basil,
cinnamon Basil, sweet Basil and more. The best way to find variety is
to shop for seeds. I have noticed a few lesser-known varieties of
seeds in the stores, but you will find more variety through specialty
Plant requirements: Basil likes well-drained soil that is rich in
nutrients. It also likes full sun and lots of water. Basil also likes
warm weather and will not do well if the weather turns cold.
Propagation: You can start seeds early indoors 6-8 weeks before the
last frost or take cuttings. Germination of seeds takes at least 2
weeks. Directly seeding outdoors after frost has passed and soil has
warmed will also do well.
Planting: Plant Basil in the garden after all danger of frost has
passed and temperatures are consistently 60*F or more. Space plants
about 12 inches apart.
Care: Slugs and snails love Basil so you'll need to protect your
plants from them. You can crush eggshells and put a ring of them
around the base of each plant or put a ring of gravel. Pinch back
often to encourage bushy growth.
Harvest just before flowering or while flowering. You can also pick
leaves as needed anytime.
In the Garden: Basil can be grown in containers or in the garden as an
ornamental plant. Grow purple leaved varieties next to the green
leaved varieties for a beautiful contrast.
Companion Planting: Basil is said to improve the growth and flavor of
asparagus, tomatoes and most vegetables except cabbage and snap beans
and is said to repel whiteflies. It is also a great companion to roses
by improving their growth and providing some protection from insects.
Culinary: There a many different ways to use Basil in the kitchen.
Here are just a few. The purple or red varieties make beautiful herb
vinegars. Lemon Basil is a great addition to fruit salads or to use
when cooking poultry. Lemon or cinnamon basil can be used in jellies,
honeys, vinegars and baked goods. Sweet basil is excellent with
Italian dishes such as spaghetti.
Crafts: Use lemon or cinnamon Basil in potpourri. Basil is symbolic
for best wishes and warm friendship; this could be taken into account
if you are making an arrangement for a special occasion. Basil can be
dried and used in herb/dried flower wreaths.
Repel Insects: Rub the leaves on your skin or grow in a container near
a troubled area to repel insects such as mosquitoes. You can also burn
sprigs of it on the barbecue or fire to repel them. Place fresh sprigs
of it over bowls of food to prevent flies from landing.
As you can see, Basil is a very useful, decorative and valuable herb
that is well worth the minimal effort to grow. I hope you'll try it if
you haven't already.
Monica is the founder Homemaker's Journal E-publications, the growing home of
many fun and informative home and garden e-books, tip sheets, articles and
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