Species: O. basilicum
Binomial name: Ocimum basilicum
Basil – The eugenol and rosmarinic acid in basil boost the brain’s production of dopamine and serotonin. According to Indian researchers, this could lead to sunnier moods in as little as three days.
There are three types of basil:
- Sweet basil
- Purple basil (less sweet)
- Thai basil (more licorice).
Basil is easy to grow. I usually plant it and then forget about it as it needs nothing else to thrive (except water if it is dry). Of course, it should be planted in fertile garden soil in full sun.
Plant spacing should be about 1 per square foot. I sometimes practice intensive gardening, or square foot gardening, and plant more per square foot, up to four plants per square foot. You will deplete the nutrients in the soil quicker this way as well as moisture. The plants will be a little more crowded and often will grown taller rather than wider. Production is increased, overall, with intensive gardening like this but you will need to watch your plants more closely.
When you see a flower head beginning to form pinch it out. This will prevent the plant from going to seed and make it continue to produce more leaves.
Basil is tender and does not handle cold at all. The plants will die with the first frost, or even before. Plant in the garden after the last frost date for your area.
Plant seeds indoors about 6 weeks before the last frost in 3 inch or smaller pots or six packs.
Basil as all herbs is best when used fresh. That however is not always possible, such as in the winter.
- Freezing is the way to retain the most flavor during storage.
- Drying is good, but expect some flavor loss. I like to cut the roots off of the plant and then hang them upside down in a well ventilated area out of the sun until the leaves are dry. Once the leaves are dry crumble them and put them into an air tight container.
Basil improves circulation. It also reduces inflammation and cholesterol. It is a booster to your immune system. Basil can reduce stomach cramps, headaches and nausea.