Basil- Ocimum Basilicum
Basil plant is an herb and comes in different varieties. It belongs to the family of mint (Lamiaceae).
As you can see in the picture, I have tried planting most of the types of basil but my most favorite is the sweet basil which I always use in cooking especially in making pesto and Italian pasta. I have tried planting the common basil, the Genovese which has dark green leaves, and the lettuce type with large and frilly leaves. The dark opal is also good, making a focal point in your garden of greens. I also tried the cinnamon basil and it is really a beneficial type of plant because it attracts pollinators so I just let it flower all summer long. The bees love its aromatic flowers. I grow the lemon basil for making teas. I love to make a regular black tea and use the lemon basil as flavoring because of its lemony fragrance and mild citrusy taste.
My second favorite is the Thai basil. I like to use them when I am making Thai chicken curry. I like to incorporate the bunch of leaves at the end of the cooking of the curry to have that intense flavor of the basil. The Vietnamese use Thai basil in the soup “Pho”.
I have also tried planting different varieties like Holy basil, globe mini basil, green and purple alike.
Basil have various and different smells because of the essential oils that comes with it. Sweet basil for example has a strong clove scent derived from “eugenol” which is the same chemical as the actual clove. Lemon basil essential oil is called “citral” which also gives the lemon peel its scent.
I like planting basil because it is easy either from seed or from a seedling from nursery. The plant needs a regular watering. When the plant is established you must gather the leaves to prevent it from flowering. Otherwise the leaf production will slow down. But if you want it to flower and gather the seeds when mature that’s good too. I always gather and collect the seeds for my next season planting. They give tons of seeds. I wait till the flowers are brown and put them in paper bags and hang them to dry more till it feels papery. I actually enjoy collecting seeds, tedious job but it somehow relaxes me. Make sure to label each bag so you’ll know what type of basil you have in each bag because they all look alike when dry.
Basil is also being considered as antioxidant, antiviral and antimicrobial and maybe have potential for treating cancer. I didn’t know this before but I plant basil anyway because its good for the garden with your tomatoes, and also good for the bees and butterflies.