Tom Greenthumb Gardening

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Basil: Herb of the Week

One of the most popular herbs to grow is Basil. I'm going to begin with it as my "Herb of the Week". Learning about herb gardening is beneficial in a variety of ways. Gardening your own herbs allows you to add extra flavor to the foods you prepare and some herbs even have medicinal health benefits.

Basil is probably so popular as it compliments fish, poultry and beef dishes so well. My favorite recipe is Tomato, Basil and Cheese Baked Pasta.

Basil prefers heat. No, I'm not talking about the kind of heat you find in "holy basil", a popular type of herb used in Thai cooking. Spicy and good. Can you say yum? When I say heat, I'm speaking of sun.
You'll need around 6-8 hours of direct sunlight at a minimum to produce a thriving plant. They come in many varieties. Thai and Dark Opal are a few I enjoy. These plants can reach 4 feet in width and height.

As with most herbs, they are best kept dried for longer storage. Here's a handy tip. When your crop is ready to cut, place the cuttings in between scott towels. The towels can be put inside your refrigerator until the drying process is complete. This shouldn't take more than a couple weeks to mature. Store the dried basil in your refrigerator in a tightly sealed container or freezer bag. You'll then have your own supply of basil to use with your favorite dishes throughout the year.