Basil, Because Pizza is LIFE

Botanical Information

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. Any information found on thegigglinggardengnome.com is intended for informational and educational purposes only and not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you have a medical condition or are seeking medical advice, please speak to your doctor or other medical professional.

Botanical name: Ocimum basilicum

Family: Lamiaceae

As with many herbs, there are a lot of different varieties of basil. Today, I am speaking specifically about “Sweet basil”. This plant is a fragrant, delicious annual that tends to grow to about a foot and a half tall and wide. It has big, rubbery looking leaves with white flowers. 

Basil has a lot of culinary uses. It tastes best, in my opinion, with tomato and garlic. It can go in sauces (PESTO!!), salads, sandwiches, omelets, ect…

To cook with it, add leaves at the end of cooking. I know that seems counter intuitive, and here I am telling you how to live your life. But, trust me. If you add it in the beginning, it gets really strong and overpowers everything else in the dish. 

Photo by Abhishek Gaurav: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-of-green-plants-1537265/

Growing Requirements

I don’t start basil indoors. Mine would always perish from damp off or get stressed when I repotted or transplanted them. I get the best results from basil by either direct sowing or buying started plants and planting into the garden.

Plant them in the early spring in well draining soil with full sun. Try putting them near the tomatoes and peppers. They are supposed to be good companions to each other because basil will deter bugs from getting to them. I don’t know about that, but they do seem to grow happily in the same space, so I just roll with it.

Harvest the leaves frequently by picking them off of the ends. This will encourage your plant to get bushier and discourage it from flowering. 

Photo by Giorgi Iremadze on Unsplash

Lore

Basil is not commonly used for remedies anymore. It is said to aid digestion and relieve gas, however. The scent of the essential oil is supposed to rid you of drowsiness and mental fatigue.

The most interesting thing I learned about the history of this herb was that it was reputed to have been used by witches in their flying potions. No sources provide the recipe for that, sad.

It is said that wherever basil is, evil can not reside. So, it is customary to keep basil in the garden and in every room of your house. It is useful for protection, love, and money. Keeping a leaf in your wallet or pocket should draw money to you. Keeping one in the register of your business is supposed to attract customers. 

Sources

Guinness, Alma E (Ed.). (1993). Family Guide to Natural Medicine. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest. P. 297-298.

McVicar, Jekka. The Complete Herb Book. Introduction by Penelope Hobhouse, Firefly Books, 2007. P. 168-171.

Cutler, Karan Davis. Burpee- The Complete Vegetable & Herb Gardener: a guide to growing your garden organically. Macmillan/Burpee. 1997, New York. P. 184-186.

McNair, James K. All About Herbs. Wilson, ORTHO BOOKS, 1990. P. 45-46.

Cunningham, Scott. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, Llewellyn Publications,1985, 2000. P. 47-48.

Conway, DJ.  Magical Folkhealing Herbs, Oils, and Recipes for Health, Healing, and Magic, Llewellyn Publications, 2019. P. 50-51.

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