Basil. Ocimum basilicum.

Basil is in abundance with me barely keeping up with the pinching out of the tips. I let the stronger plants set seed and redistribute to basil free areas throughout the garden. It likes a rich weed free, and well aerated soil. I plant it between rows of other vegetables and where ever there is a space.  Basil grows at its best if I don’t let it flower and it will continue growing until there is frost or temperatures fall close to. Because I have not seen a frost here for 3 years, basil has kept growing throughout the seasons. A beautiful plant in the garden, not only for its scent but its shade of green and its white flower.

Many fresh uses in the kitchen for this fantastic herb. Fresh in salads with tomato, in pesto and my favourite, lentil, egg plant and basil lasagne.

To dry, pinch off leaves from the stem and place in a well ventilated area.  I use loose woven flat reed trays. After a couple of days and if they need more drying, place in a low oven until completely dry.  I am also freezing leaves – for the making of pesto for the Certified Organic Market on May 7th. Pull leaves off stems, wash and dry on clean towelling. Place and seal in freezer bags.  Leaves can also be preserved in cider vinegar. Place basil leaves until a third of the jar is packed. Cover with vinegar, white can be used, your preference, then close the jar and place on a sunny window sill for 3 weeks.

Another species of basil, Ocimum sanctum (tulsi) is sacred in the Hindu religion, particularly to Vishnu.

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