Organic Emily

Growing and Using Herbs: Basil

    Sweet Basil

There are so many different kinds of basil to grow these days!  All beautiful and uniquely fragrant!  I grow lots of it!  In fact I grow it everywhere I can!  It’s even pretty enough to grow in flower beds, enhancing the aroma and keeping pests away!  I usually buy a few starts to get a head start on the harvest, but this year I started my own seeds under lights and grew more, directly sowing them into the ground as a border around some of my vegetable beds.  I am now harvesting from my larger plants, throwing it into green salads, pastas and making fresh pesto (see recipe below)!  Basil is a sun loving, tender annual herb and needs to be planted by starts or seeds after the danger of frost has past.  Usually around the middle of May.  Be sure to cut the flowers off so the plant doesn’t go to seed extending the leaf growth all season long!

There are many health benefits to basil some include protection from certain cancers because of it’s high levels of flavonoids and anti-oxidants, protecting our body from free radical damage and cholesterol.  Basil is also an excellent source of magnesium, improving blood flow, and promoting cardiovascular health and well being.  Essential oils found in basil have long been effective as organic alternatives in treating dry skin, acne, psoriasis and even ear infections.  Basil’s not just an herb to sprinkle on spaghetti, basil has important antibacterial properties. When applied to the skin or surfaces, basil fights back against bacteria and so much more.   Not just any old herb, basil’s got anti-inflamatory properties second-to-none that can provide much-needed relief from all kinds of conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) conditions. Basis is also reportedly helpful in treating constipation, indigestion, stomach cramps, and more.

Harvesting Basil

Cut Basil

When harvesting basil cut 1/4 of an inch above the first or second main stem where it begins to branch out.  This will force the outside stems to grow bigger, allowing for more harvest later!  Be sure to not cut off anymore than a 1/3 of the plant to allow enough energy to keep the plant alive.  Cutting basil on a regular basis will help encourage more growth!

Other varieties I grow in my garden!

Tai BasilCinnamon BasilLemon BasilSweet Basil

Fresh Basil Pesto

Basil Pesto

Freshly made basil pesto is a little piece of heaven in my kitchen!  The fragrance and flavor are hard to beat and only seasonal which makes it even more beloved!  This simple recipe is perfect for so many different kinds of recipes!  Try putting it on pasta, pizza, bruschetta, tomatoes, other veggies, sandwiches and crackers.  There are endless possibilities!

 

Recipe

 In a food processor blend 1 cup almonds or other desired nut.  I prefer almonds because they are mild in flavor and less expensive than pine nuts.

While processor is going add 4 cups packed fresh basil leaves

Add 1 cup olive oil to keep the mixture from sticking.
Add 2-4 cloves garlic
1 cup good Parmesan cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
Sea salt and pepper to taste.
If you like your pesto a thinner consistency, add more olive oil.

 

 

 

Emily Saddler

Emily is a Master Gardener, wife of a professional landscape contractor, Mom of 4 cute kids, Yoga instructor and very passionate advocate of organic home-grown food! Emily maintains a blog called “The Organic Suburban Farm Girl” where she shares gardening advice, delicious recipes made with fresh, organic ingredients and her escapades as the keeper of both backyard chickens and honeybees!

Comments

  1. Great new site! Love it!

    I do love basil! How fun to grow so many kinds and thanks for the cutting tips. I needed that. What should I do about grasshoppers? They seems to love basil and hang around my tomatoes and eat holes in my other plants too.

    • organicemily says:

      Try Nolo Bait for grasshoppers. It’s a great biological/organic control! You can find it at any nursery.

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  1. […] is a recipe I threw together one day and it was awesome!  I use my frozen Homaemade Basil Pesto and my Oven Dried […]

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