Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.)

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Origin

Basil originated in India. It arrived in Europe in the mid-16th century and quickly became a favorite herb.

Consumption

Fresh and dried plants, leaf juice, infusion, oil extract, essential oil. Basil is used to flavor tomato and other vegetable salads, sauces, soups, various cottage cheese, fish and meat dishes, marmalades and jams. Red-leaved and other varieties of basil are used in landscaping.

Nutritional value

Basil contains about 1 % essential oil, flavonoids, tannins, vitamins C, P and beta carotene. Herbal infusions stimulate the appetite and improve digestion. It is suitable for the care of the mouth, teeth, nasal mucosa and heals wounds. The essential oil is used in the perfumery, aromatherapy massage, saunas, tones and stimulates, but excess oil has the opposite effect. It should not be used during pregnancy, after a heart attack, in epilepsy and if the smell is unpleasant.

Bowl of basil
Bowl of basil

Varieties

(O. basilicum L. var. latifolia), red-leaved (O. basilicum L. var. rubra) and small-leaved (O. basilicum L. var. minimum). Many varieties have been developed, differing from each other in terms of shrub height, leaf size, shape, color and aroma. The scent of the different varieties is reminiscent of bay leaves, nutmeg, aniseed, allspice, cloves, cinnamon, lemon and mint. Broad-leaved varieties are more often aromatic. The ornamental varieties ‘Opal. About 40 cm tall and wide. Leaves are purple, long and broad. ‘Dark opal’. 40-60 cm tall and wide. Leaves black-purple. ‘Compact’. About 40 cm tall and wide. Green, large leaves. ‘Rosie’. About 40 cm tall and wide. Leaves purple. Cinnamon’. About 65 cm tall and wide. Yali, long leaves with a cinnamon aroma. Stems bright purple, flowers pink. ‘Toscano’. About 60 cm tall and wide. Leaves are green, coarse, coarse. Accumulates a lot of essential oils. ‘Siam ween’. About 60 cm tall and wide. Leaves are green, with a hint of licorice. Stems bright purple, flowers purple, blooms later. Sweet Genovese’. About 40-60 cm tall and wide. Leaves are green, broad and large. Accumulates a lot of essential oils. Other varieties ‘Persian’. About 40 cm tall and wide. Green leaves with an aniseed and clove aroma. ‘Fine alto’. About 25 cm tall and wide. Fine verde’. About 50 cm tall and wide. Leaves are green, rather small. ‘Italiano classico’. About 40 cm tall and wide. Leaves green, large. The flowers are white. ‘Holy’. About 70 cm tall and wide. Green, broad, long leaves. ‘Thai’. About 70 cm tall and wide. Leaves long, narrow. ‘Genovese’. About 50 cm tall, 35 cm wide. Leaves are green, long, rather broad.

Location

Suitable for a sunny, warm site.

Soil and substrates

Basil grows well in fertile, light loamy, or sandy loam soil. It should be deeply tilled, friable, well structured, water and air permeable. In heavier soils, it is recommended that sawdust, acid-free peat, sand and organic fertilizer be added in the autumn. Special seedling substrates prepared in advance are suitable for seedlings.

Nutrient requirements

The soil must be rich in nutrients.

Basil plant
Basil plant

Sowing and planting

Sowing is done in boxes in mid-April, with a very thin layer of soil. Germination takes 10-14 days and seedlings grow in 35-40 days. The most favorable temperature is 18-20 °C during the day and 15 °C at night. The seedlings are thinned when the first true leaves begin to form. The seedlings are planted at a spacing of 30×30 cm. In the greenhouse, they are planted in mid-May and outdoors in early June. The soil is fertilized with compost before planting. Basil will shrivel up outdoors in colder summers. In the greenhouse they grow well, are larger than outdoors and accumulate more essential oils. A good neighbor for tomatoes, cucumbers. Can be grown in pots on the balcony, in the room. Requires 0,1-0,2 g of seeds per 1 m2.

Plant care

After seedlings have been established, water with fermented nettle extract is repeated after 14 days. Watering should be carried out when the soil surface is dry, in the first half of the day. Basil does not like wet soil. Very sensitive to frost.

Pests and diseases

Basil is attacked by slugs, snails, cabbage and turnip whitefly caterpillars, aphids, gravel beetles, leafhoppers and leafhopper larvae. If grown on the same substrate year after year in the greenhouse, they start to suffer from fusariosis.

Yield

Basil is at its most aromatic at the beginning of flowering (late June/early July). The grass for drying is cut leaving a stubble of 10 cm. Once the basil has grown back, it is cut again. Continuous harvesting of the apical shoots with leaves encourages branching. Dry in a well-ventilated place protected from sunlight or in a drying oven at a temperature of not more than 35 °C. Store in airtight dark glass containers or paper bags.

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