I am by no means an expert on herbs, but I grow a fairly good variety of the culinary type. I don't mess
with medicinal ones, and neither should you unless you know exactly what you are doing because they can be dangerous to deadly. Most or all culinary herbs
also have health benefits, but again, even they should be used only after you have researched side effects, especially if you have health issues to begin
with or are on medication. I personally have never had issues with the herbs I use in my cooking, and basil is one of my top favorites, if not number ONE. It
comes in so many types and varieties, that it in itself takes up a big space in the herb garden. This year, as always, I grew it in the greenhouse, but not in
containers, in fact it is one the few crops I grew indoors this year because I had cleared up so much of my farmland. I planted fifteen varieties of Basil
this year. Here they are:
Corsican, Purple Ruffles, Osmin, Red Rubin, Sweet, Genovese, Mostruoso, Large-Leaf Italian, Lettuce-Leaf, Lime, Lemon, Cinnamon, Licorice, Siam Queen, and a new variety, which is very unique, called African Nunum. I got it from Baker Creek and it was developed by one of their growers in Africa. It has broad leaves that are just a bit fuzzy, and is the first one I pick when I'm making a cooked meal, as opposed to a raw meal or salad. You can find Baker Creek on my Favorite Seed Companies page. All of these companies are non-GMO, and many are all or partially organic. Many specialize in open-pollinated varieties, as opposed to hybrids.
Anyways, this is another of my numerous Storey Publishing Bulletins. As usual, it provides lots of tidbit information and as is typical with those concerning foods, there are many recipes. They are all 32 pages, I believe. Unfortunately the company has apparently been sold and I am not able to access the page with these bulletins, if it still exists. However, there are many other online stores where they may be purchased. Here is a summary of what’s to be found.
Basil's origins are not from Italy, as one might think, but Asian nations, such as India, Pakistan and Thailand. The word Basil comes from the Greek word, "basileus" meaning "king," and "basilisk"—a legendary reptile who was so repulsive he could kill with just one glance." OH!! I hope no one ever died from eating basil, but the meaning, supposedly suggests power and efficacy. Basil certainly has a wonderful strong fragrance and flavor. The people of India used it in religious ceremonies to protect the deceased from evil. It was a sign of love in Italy, and in France sidewalk cafés overflowed with basil to repel insects, or back in 1990 they did.
I did some extra research, of course, and basil was named as a mosquito repellent in particular, and I can vouch for that, because the area in the greenhouse where they are planted is fairly mosquito-free, especially in this sopping wet summer we have had here in NE Ohio in 2023. Here in the U.S. basil has been a staple herb for over 200 years.
Ogden then mentions some planting tips. Since they are tender, they cannot be planted or set outside while it is cold. I started mine early this year, but often I wait until July, because they love the heat and grow very quickly. They are actually tender perennials, and in the past I have kept a plant or two potted indoor over the winter. They are attractive plants, which come in different colors, shapes and sizes. Too much nitrogen in the soil will contribute to lush growth but low oil content, so their flavor will not be that great. They should have at least six hours of full sun. HA! Good luck here in Ohio with all the toxic aerosols being sprayed on us and the non-stop rain. Basil is related, as are many herbs, to mint.
She then discusses botanical classifications and the different types. There is Sweet, which includes the very popular Genovese. In fact, it is difficult to find just plain old regular "Sweet" these days. I had a packet with a few seeds left, and fortunately a few germinated. I have that one potted and outside away from the others so I can save the seeds. Then there is Bush basil, which I usually do not grow, but have in the past.
Purple is the next type she mentions, and I have good luck with all but Purple Ruffles. My Corsican and Osmin, which are mottled to solid colored leaves, and Red Rubin are doing well, or were before all this flooding. In the Lettuce-Leaf varieties, I have Lettuce Leaf and Mostruoso, which are huge-leaved and curled like Genovese. Of the scented types, I always grow Lime, Licorice, Siam Queen, which is also a licorice or anise flavor, plus Cinnamon and Sweet Dani Lemon, which is different than the tiny-leaved regular lemon. Ogden also mentions some rare basils, with Holy Basil being the only one I have grown, and I don't believe I've ever seen seeds available for the others.
She also gives tips on harvesting and how to pluck the leaves off the main stem to encourage bushing out, plus ways to preserve basil. As my regular readers know, I am a big fan of making flavored vinegars, and basil is one of the top ingredients. I do not recommend making flavored oils because there is the risk of botulism.
The next half of the book is recipes, plus I have found some online to share, with some additional information. First, let's begin with basil's safety for our non-human family members. I don't mean extraterrestrials, but if the shoe fits . . . . These are the three types of four-legged beings that make up my family, but if your family is different, the info is easy to find.
Here are herbs that are safe and not safe for cats. I have a huge swath of Peppermint growing in the greenhouse, but I have not seen anybody eating it. I've seen contradictory articles on this herb and its safety for animals, in which case I always go on the safe side. I have a big pot of catnip, too, and they don't eat that either, so I'm not worried. I caught Goblin in my tub of Chives, but I think she was considering using it for a litter pan, so she was removed quickly. They all like to walk through the Basil, but again, they don't eat it. They are seventeen, and it seems they have become very particular about food in their old age.
Herbs Safe For Cats
This is for dogs, and, though I have found that generally what's safe for dogs is safe for cats, there are some differences here. Avoid anything where there are conflicting opinions, There are plenty of natural fruits, vegetables and herbs that are unequivocally safe for critters, so stick with those. I've not seen anything that questions basil's safety.
Can Dogs Eat Basil? 10 Herbs To Look For in Your Dog's Food
And here is some info on turtles. There are some adorable photos in this one. Yes, I DO think turtles are adorable! I acquired my first rescue, Murdle, 23 years ago this month (September, 2000). Berthe came two years later. They are both Midland Painted. I gave them both a couple little pieces of a leaf. Berthe tried it and didn't like it. Murdle wasn't as adventurous.
Can Turtles Eat Basil? What You Need To Know!
This pertains to the human species.
Basil Tea Benefits and Side Effects
And here's more info from Wikipedia. Be sure to watch the time-lapse video of basil sprouting and growing and wiggling around. I had no idea plants moved so much! The page is not that great, however, considering what an interesting herb this is and the great number of varieties available.
This contains growing tips and some vegetarian recipes that look really good.
Basil 101: Growing Tips + 28 Recipes
And here's another with even more recipes. Basil recipes are easy to find online, as this is a very popular herb. Most of these are not vegetarian, but with all the vegan/Non-GMO products available (check out ALDI for the least expensive), there are plenty of ways to substitute, or just be creative on your own. I use basil in just about every meal I make. The recipes shown on this page are contributions from lots of different people.
50 of Our Favorite Fresh Basil Recipes
And now, here are some photos of my basils. I have four little patches of it, which I transplanted at different times, so the first group is the most developed. The African Nunum is in the last photo, on the left.
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