Grow Mrs. Burns' Lemon Heirloom Basil

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Read more from Patsy Bell Hobson at When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri. Her travel adventures can be read around the world at Striped Pot Travel. Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook page. 

What is an heirloom?

The word ‘heirloom’ harkens back to a nostalgic time–when life was sweeter and tomatoes were redder.

Open-pollinated, or parent plants that are naturally pollinated, heirloom plants produce heirloom seed. The new generation of seeds will produce plants that are identical to its parent plants.

Many folks say that to be classified as an heirloom the cultivar has to be at least 50 or 100 years old. Others say before World War II ended. (The end of World War II marked the industrialization of agriculture and widespread hybrid cultivation.)

Heirloom plants have proven to be more heat tolerant, drought tolerant, insect resistant and have more vitamins and minerals. If they didn’t have any of these desirable characteristics, we wouldn’t grow them and soon they wouldn’t exhist.

Mrs. Burns’ lemon basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodora ) is an heirloom (pre 1940) basil grown by Mrs. Burns in southwestern New Mexico. This lemon basil is taller and has larger leaves than other lemon basils. It also has an intense lemon flavor and fragrance.

Seed Packet Giveaway

Renee’s Garden has agreed to give away a seed packet of Mrs. Burns’ lemon basil to three Herb Companion readers. Read more to learn how to enter in this exciting giveaway. Read Renee’s blog to order more seeds and discover more great how-tos and gardening tips. 


• Post a comment telling us your favorite way to use basil.

End date: April 10, 2011 (12:00 a.m. Central Time)UPDATE: Time’s up!

And the winners are …

Irene in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania: “I make a pass thru in my garden when I make a salad and snip my basil and other herbs to add to it. I make a wonderful pesto that goes on spaghetti and on a provolone, tomato,and crusty bread sandwich. I make an all-purpose herb blend with dried kale, beet tops, spinach etc, and my herbs including large amounts of basil. But I think my favorite way to use is just to go out to the garden and cup the leaves in my hand and breath deeply. THAT puts a real smile on my face.”

Nina in Big Lake, Texas: “I recently made Rosemary Lemon Basil cookies. A very light flaky tea cake. Everyone raved about them. They were delicious!”

Janet in Las Vegas, Nevada: “I have had the pleasure of assisting one of Las Vegas’ major chefs prepare 12 varieties of basil to demonstrate to the public the many ways of using basil. Lemon basil was used in a very refreshing summer drink. Crushed leaves infused into a mixture of lime concentrate mixed with water, and sparkling orange or lemon San Pellagrino water add ice then serve. If used for adult beverages add favorite alcohol for a Mojito. I love lemon basil as well as cinnamon and christmas basil great to cook many dishes with. Combination chopped mixed with simple syrup poured over fresh cut fruit WOW it is great.” 

Winners were chosen using Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.

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