Patsy Bell Hobson is blogging at Oh Grow Up! When not in the garden or on the road, find her in southern Missouri USA. Read more travel stories at Striped Pot. Find more garden, travel and random rants on her Facebook.
Basil has to be my all-time favorite fresh summer herb. This aromatic herb's flavors blend well with tomatoes, making the two a perfect match. They taste great together in recipes like Caprese Salad and grow well together as companion plants in the garden.
Basil is easy to grow from seed. And now that all danger of frost is passed, basil can be directly sown. Luckily I have room in my garden for more than one variety of basil (and more than one variety of tomato!).
Part of the joy of growing herbs and flowers from seed is that I can afford to be generous. If I am buying an individual plant, my choices are limited. With a little pack of seed, I planted a dozen basil plants along a walkway last year. It's impossible to walk by and not brush my hand over the plants, releasing a heavenly fragrance.
Left: Italian or sweet basil, Center: Thai basil, Right: Mrs. Burn's lemon basil
I like Renee's Garden's Scented Basil Trio. This seed packet packages three mixed basil seed. It's a fun surprise planting these seeds and not knowing what will come up where. I love them all—cinnamon basil, Mrs. Burn's lemon basil and red rubin basil—so it really doesn't matter which comes up where. I have planted the Scented Basil Trio in a mixed herb and flower garden, and it seems like a butterfly magnet.
Pinch back the top several inches to encourage branching and more tasty leaves.
When the basil plants are leafy and full, I'll make a lot of herb vinegar. It's easy. To make bottles of lemony white wine vinegar, gather pink red rubin basil, chive and my new favorite basil, Profuma di Genova.
Profuma di Genova is a Renee's exclusive. This imported Italian basil has a pure and bright basil fragrance. If for no other reason, I grow this basil simply for its sweet smell. Fortunately, it has the same taste characteristics—a pure clear taste uncomplicated by minty/clove overtones, as Renee's description says.
Basil stops growing after it blooms. Cut back blooms for continued growth.
Photos by Patsy Bell Hobson
It's not too late to start basil from seed. I'll plant it a couple of times, pulling the first plants, using all the leaves for pesto, herb vinegar and herb butter. Don't limit yourself to one kind of pesto. I make the traditional variety and a lemony version of pesto with Mrs. Burn's lemon basil (add lemon zest to this recipe.)
Find lots of basil in Renee's Garden's online seed catalogs. Read Renee's Blog, or go to Renee's Garden to order seeds. There are great how-tos and gardening tips on Renee's website. Renee has agreed to give away a seed packet of Scented Basil Trio to three lucky Herb Companion readers.Winners will be selected randomly from comments. Good luck!
HOW TO ENTER
• Post a comment telling us how you currently use basil and what kind you grow.
• End date: June 15, 2012 (12:00 a.m. Central Time) UPDATE: Time's up!
The winners have been contacted. They were chosen using Random.org. Thanks to everyone who entered my Garden Giveaway! Watch out for even more giveaways.
Thanks again to Renee's Garden.