How To…Grow Basil

How To...Grow Basil

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Basil may be an unassuming-looking herb, but it’s certainly one of the biggest and most versatile for flavour.

It’s also one of the most rewarding flavourings or summer garnishes you can raise from seed, lending itself to a sunny windowsill, greenhouse or sunny patio pot.

While Genovese or sweet basil is the most instantly recognisable, essential for infusing freshly sliced tomatoes drizzled with olive oil, or finely diced and tossed into salads, used in Thai stir fries or soups, there are other varieties or species that expand the range of flavours that can be equally exhilarating, finding use in many other dishes.

Smaller-leaved, densely branched Greek basil, Ocimum basilicum minimum has a milder, yet spicier flavour than Genovese. Grown in pots it can be pinched into spheres. Lemon basil, O. africanum, a hybrid, has a citrusy aroma, making it especially useful for fish or rice dishes.

Purple basil, O. basilicum purpurascens has coppery plum foliage with a sweet, clove-like aroma. Basil O. basilicum is a perennial basil plant from the tropics requiring a warm, sheltered position to do well.

Usually grown as an annual it’s not a plant for cold, wet British summers, so it's best grown indoors.

Step by step guide of how to grow basil

1 Sow seeds in modules, trays or half-pots and keep warm

2 Prick out clumps of seedlings and grow or in pots or trays

3 Basils can be grown on sunny windowsills or conservatory

Best basils to try

Genovese

Large leaved variety with typical basil flavour. Good with tomatoes.

From: www.nickys-nursery.co.uk tel: 01843 600972

Greek

Compact small leaved form, milder in flavour and ideal for pots

From: www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk tel: 01449 721720

Lemon

Citrusy flavoured variety. Good for use in rice and fish dishes.

From: www.nickys-nursery.co.uktel: 01843 600972

Red

Warm aromatic clove aroma from purple bronze foliage.

From: www.plantsofdistinction.co.uk tel: 01449 721720

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