"Pounding fragrant things - particularly garlic, basil, parsley - is a tremendous antidote to depression. But it applies also to juniper berries, coriander seeds and the grilled fruits of the chilli pepper. Pounding these things produces an alteration in one's being - from sighing with fatigue to inhaling with pleasure. The cheering effects of herbs and alliums cannot be too often reiterated." ~ Patience Gray
Probably one of the best little plants you could raise from a seed, watch grow and be proud of being a plant parent. Basil is a gratifying plant to keep, without being fussy. If you select a specialty like Spicy Globe, Pistou or Bascuro you will discover that these small leafed varieties are much more aromatic and also more beautiful to work with in your dishes. They fill the room with a lovely aroma and look elegant and crisp.
The one we have here is Bascuro. Our pictured plant is 6 months old. You will notice that we did not space very tightly, so it has grown a bit more freely and quite high. This is a question of preference. We don’t like to ‘crowd’ plants. And we also let the upper leaves grow quite big. We like to have a range of leaf sizes at our disposal. Should you want to space tighter your plants will have predominantly small leaves and little ‘bouquets’.
One way or another you will need to prune the plants. If you don’t prune them they might grow too tall and break (or bloom). We pruned ours at pretty much the borderline of a permissible hight (20cm). When you prune a basil plant, it will grow new shoots just below the trimming.
You don’t have to be worried that you will harm the plant. Basil actually becomes bushier if you do this regularly. Just don’t do it too low down the stem. Leave at least 5 pairs of leaves (counting from the bottom) standing, otherwise you risk killing the shoot.
If you are careful with your basil it doesn’t have to last only for a year. Bringing it indoors when temperatures drop below ca. 15 ºC (at night) is then recommended. And not letting it bloom. Even though the blossoms are delicious and have an amazing aroma (we have to admit that we do cheat occasionally, on 1 or 2 shoots – we let those bloom to collect the blossoms for decoration in food or drinks).
Water your basil baby regularly and place it in a sunny spot. Keep in mind that it is a warmth loving plant but does not like scorching sunlight. It does not like to be moved around either. When you move it indoors it is best to find it a place on the window pane. And as always: some tender love and care will get you half way there 🙂
Our Caprese recipe uses some of the above mentioned varieties we raise ourselves. Why not go ahead and try it out?
Or even better: get some seeds, soil and pots and get started on your own plants. And if we really tickled your fancy: there is a great book on all things basil. De Nieuwe Tuin is the place to get the seeds and book. Or go local, to a nursery in your neighbourhood.