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Basil

 Latin Name : Ocimum basilicum
 Family : Labiatae/ Lamiaceae (Mint Family)
 Genus : Ocimum
 Common names : Basil, Common Basil, Sweet Basil
 
Basil

Basil an annual herb belonging to the mint family has been cultivated for thousands of years and has become an essential ingredient in many cooking traditions. Native to tropical parts of Asia, Africa, Central and South America, this easily grown tender leafy herb is primarily grown for its aromatic leaves which are used fresh or dried to liven up numerous culinary dishes. It is also known for its purifying and disinfecting properties. In India, basil is considered sacred and is cherished in almost every Hindu house.

The herb grows up to 2-3 feet tall with green stems that are usually woody at the base. The common basil has large, bright green, opposite leaves 2-4 inches long, and tiny purple or white flowers arranged in flattened whorls which encircle the stems, one whorl above another. Foliage colors range from pale to deep green, vivid purple and purple laced with golden yellow depending on the variety. Plants are leafy and branch freely. There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. In warm, tropical climates, Basil can be grown as a perennial.

Propagation, Planting and Harvesting

Basil can be easily grown and fast growing too. It grows best in moderately warm, rich and well-drained moist soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Basil requires a sunny location which receives at least 6-8 hours of bright light per day and frequent watering in hot weather. Basil is very tender and sensitive to frost injury. It appreciates a good mulch covering over the roots.

Basil seed

Propagation of basil is through seeds. The seeds can be sown directly into the ground where they are to be grown. Sow evenly, covering with 1/4" of soil and keep moist and free of weeds. Germination should take place within 5-7 days. Once seedlings have developed 2-3 pairs of leaves, they should be thinned or transplanted to stand 6"-12" apart. The soil must be enriched with organic matter before transplanting. Basil is also ideal for container growing in normal potting compost. Once the seedlings emerge, place the containers in a sunny, warm position. Water regularly, always from the base avoiding the leaves and the stem.

Harvesting can by snipping or cutting the fresh young leaves as they are needed, from the top. Fresh basil are best for flavour. Handle gently to avoid blackening leaves.  If whole stems are being harvested, cut just above a pair of leaves. New growth will be encouraged at that point and should be seen within a week's time. Harvest frequently for increased production.

Basil can be used fresh or dried. Leaves can be preserved by hanging the foliage upside down in small bunches and air drying in a warm, dry, well ventilated room for a week or so. Foliage can also be dried by spreading flat on a drying rack under the same conditions. Once the basil is thoroughly dried, strip the leaves from the stems and store whole or chopped in an air tight container away from heat sources and bright light. It can also be preserved by storing in small plastic bags inside the freezer.

Problems and Care

Few Insects bother basil. Japanese Beetles can cause serious leaf damage. To control this, hand pick and drown the beetles in a bucket of soapy water and feed twice a month with liquid plant food.

After planting, mulching will be beneficial in retaining soil moisture and minimizing weeds around the plants during the growing season. Prune the plant periodically for a bushier growth with more leaves. Pinch off the flower brackets or else the plant will become woody and less bushier.


Questions of
 Questions & Answers
 1.  Posted on : 26.4.2012  By  :  Geetha , Coimbatore View Answer (0) Post Answer
 

Sir, I would like to grow cardamom in my home garden. Is it possible to grow in this place? Where can i get the seeds or sapling?

 
 2.  Posted on : 4.9.2010  By  :  Radhika , Pune, Pune View Answer (1) Post Answer
 

What are Burdock seeds called in India and where can i get them here in India?

 
A1: 

In marathi it is called ghagra. Burdock is a plant that is related to the daisy family. It is also closely related to Echinacea, Dandelion, and Feverfew. Burdock is an herb but it is one that has been much neglected when it comes to getting attention. Back in ancient times the Greeks used the roots, the seeds, and the greens and used them for healing purposes. Throughout the Middle Ages Burdock was used for both food and medicine. Today, Burdock is still used for such things as easing liver problems and digestive disorders. It was also found to be very effective for cleansing the skin for problems such as acne and also to assist in digestive problems. To this day throughout Europe the stalk and the greens are still eaten because they hold such valuable nutrition and vitamin values. As more and more research is being done on Burdock many new and interesting discoveries are cropping up. A relationship is being examined between Burdock and its anti fungal and anti bacterial properties, and even more important it is showing signs of possibly being able to fight against tumors and could be a cancer fighting agent as well. Research has shown that since many of the cancer causing compounds are in almost all foods which are then eaten and stored in the human fat tissues that Burdock might very well be of help in fighting cancer because of the role that it can play in depleting these mutagens. Burdock is also very helpful in strengthening the immune system when it has become weakened by environmental factors. When mixed with other herbs such as Dandelion and Ginger it can be a very powerful blood purifier. The most unique fact about Burdock is that it has a very high amount of inulin which is a natural occurring chemical within the body that mimics actions of insulin. Because of this, Burdock has been successful in helping combat hypoglycemia and pre diabetes conditions. If you look for Burdock in the market you may find it called gobo instead as that is what some refer to it as. It is often combined with other vegetables or added to Tofu. Some boil Burdock while others sautי or deep fry it. Many have said it might not be such a good idea to look at Burdock before you eat it because you might change your mind about taking a bite. It looks thick, dark, and woody but indeed the opposite is true when it comes to the taste. Burdock is well recognized as a health food because it has low calorie content and a high fiber intake. It is also loaded with potassium, iron, and calcium. People claim that Burdock tastes like nothing else. In other words it has a taste all of its own. The best description that people can agree on when it comes to the flavor of Burdock is that it is sweet yet earthy, with a tender and crisp texture. It is often added to stews, soups, and stir fries. In the form of food, Burdock is highly nutritional and full of vitamins but in retrospect Burdock is also an effective herb for bringing the body back into balance.

  Posted By :Yashashri Joshi , Thane | On 14.3.2012
 3.  Posted on : 28.3.2010  By  :  Linda , Michigan View Answer (1) Post Answer
 

Can a Clove tree be bonsai or grow as house plants like bay leaf or allspice?

 
A1: 

Yes, Clove is a nice tree to plant in a house, Also you can maintain as a bonsai.

  Posted By :Rynco Orchids , trivandrum | On 17.4.2010
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