Wednesday, June 25, 2014

It's Not Too Late

When you reach for that recipe that calls for fresh basil just walk outside and pick some from your garden.  What?  You have no basil in your garden? Consider this the perfect time to plant some. It's not too late! You will likely find basil plants on sale this time of year too! Fresh basil AND a sale ~ groovy!

If you can keep a houseplant alive, you can grow basil. If you can't keep a houseplant alive....well, maybe you can keep basil alive. ha! I have confidence in you!

No garden spot for it? No problem. Simply create your own herb garden in planters or pots. Basil will do well in the ground but also grows beautifully in planters. It grows easily, it fills out fast, has a lovely flavor, and the fragrance is amazing.  Basil is also wonderful indoors in a sunny window. It is a sun-loving herb so be sure you find a sunny warm spot for it. 

You can jump in with both feet by planting several herbs or begin gradually. Basil is the perfect starter herb. It doesn't require a lot of attention and it grows quickly so you'll see the rewards in a short time. Basil will be visibly wilted if you don't water it enough so for those of you that can't keep a houseplant alive, basil has a built-in watering gauge. 

Watering conditions will vary depending on the environment your basil is in. Water consistently and keep the soil moist, not soggy. If you're planting in a container have good drainage (possibly a layer of rocks in the bottom of the pot before adding soil or at least a drainage hole). 

Basil is bursting with flavor so it adds a punch to sauces, soups, meats or you can simply tuck a few fresh leaves in a sandwich or salad.

It's also a great herb to practice your pruning. Everyone needs to keep their pruning skills sharp right? Cut, or pinch, the herb just above a set of leaves. Two new stems will grow where you cut the original stem which will keep the plant producing plenty of foliage. If you don't prune basil often it will grow straight up and become a tall gangly top heavy plant

Prune regularly or basil will begin to grow flowers. If your basil does produce flowers, pinch them off . You want your beautiful basil plant to focus on producing leaves not flowers.

When we were in Italy, several of our dishes had fresh basil leaves on them. One of may favorites is Caprese (sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil). It is such a simple dish but I just love it!

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