Basil has always been a favorite of mine. It’s gentle yet enticing and earthy aroma always reminds me of family and friends gathered around the table sharing stories over a good meal. Basil is so versatile and easy to grow, that along with chives, thyme, sage, rosemary, and cilantro, it has become my go-to herb for a lot of dishes. I read somewhere that its name is derived from the Greek word “baselius” meaning “king,” because it was believed to have been used in the making of royal perfumes. It has long been considered a stimulant and an aphrodisiac, and it’s currently used in aromatherapy to treat depression and anxiety, and for several other medicinal purposes.
For me it’s all about the flavor and the joy of growing my own herbs and vegetables, in an organic and earth-friendly manner. But I’m always humbled to learn in more detail about the amazing benefits of a simple herb or veggie, and basil does not disappoint. Basil has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that help protect the body against harmful microbe and bacteria. It is rich in beta-caryophyllene which is well-known for reducing inflammation in the brain. It contains vitamin K, C, and A, and like most herbs it’s packed with antioxidants; it helps boost metabolism, lower blood pressure and reduce free radicals.
How could such sweet and wholesome hours be reckoned, but in herbs and flowers?
Who knew there were so many different varieties of basil, and here in the rose city we’re lucky to be able to grow most of them. Here are a few:
African Blue: African blue basil has a strong scent of peppers, cloves, mint, and camphor. It’s used with meets, rice, and vegetable dishes.
Amethyst: this type of basil has a strong clove taste, it is highly aromatic, and it’s usually used to infuse oils and vinegars.
Cinnamon: its flavor is milder and is used a lot in Asian cooking. It also pairs well with fruit because of its cinnamon flavor.
Genovese: it has a stronger, more aromatic flavor, and it’s a favorite of Italian dishes.
Greek Columnar: it’s distinctive cinnamon and cloves aroma makes it a favorite for salads and soups.
Lettuce Leaf: with its mild sweet anise flavor it’s used in fresh dishes, sandwiches and of course, salads.
Lemon: because of its strong aroma and a fresh citrus like flavor, it’s perfect for grilled veggies, poultry, fish, salad dressings, desserts, and teas.
Licorice or Thai: due to its stronger anise flavor, this type of basil is used mostly in Asian dishes, tea, and flavored vinegars.
Lime: with a striking twist of lime it’s used in teas, desserts, and sauces.
Wrap fish fillets, sliced veggies, and other quick-cooking items inside foil packets with bundles of fresh herbs and throw them directly on the grill; the steam will release the herb’s perfume and flavor anything contained inside the pouch.
Easy to love
Herbs are so easy to grow and little TLC goes a long way. The rewards really outweigh the effort because herbs are truly versatile and packed with goodness. This month of February is the perfect time to start your indoor seeds for chives, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, sage, savory, and thyme. Basil and cilantro will have to wait until March, which is just around the corner.
Now is the perfect time for you to start planting those seeds! It’s also a good time to start direct planting your seeds for Snap Peas, Snow Peas, and Shelling Peas. You know you can always call us with questions. We will be glad to answer your questions, and to help you design, grow, and manage your edible garden.
Here’s to friends, tasty dishes, and an abundant and prosperous vegetable garden.