CityDiggity

A green space for urban gardeners

So many different types of basil, so little time – and space

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The basil seeds sown directly into the large terra cotta pots that will be their summer home have sprouted, despite the cold air that spring hasn’t yet managed to chase away.

So, I’m confident that I’ll have a robust crop for pesto, and all the other fresh dishes the herb enhances, in just a few weeks.

I planted Genovese basil and one that I haven’t tried before — lime basil. In the past, I also added a colorful purple basil plant to my container garden, which at the time seemed quite exotic to me.

However, as the Bard might have said (if he had a taste for the herb): there’s a lot more to basil than dreamt of in my philosophy.

During my recent nursery outing, I found that not only did it carry the three aforementioned types of basil — in addition to the widely available sweet basil — but it offered an impressive array of other basil for the picking.

There were racks and racks of Indian basil, Thai basil, spicy globe basil, Rubin basil, compact green bush basil, African blue basil, purple ruffles basil, dark opal basil, cinnamon basil and sweet Dani basil. That’s a whole lot of basil; an endless source of future garden experiments!

I immediately began trying to imagine the possible uses for each of these varieties, making some assumptions based on the names. But, we all know what they say happens when you assume… Rather than fall prey to that fate, I’ll call on you for assistance:

Have you grown any of the basil highlighted here? How did it perform? What uses — culinary or otherwise — did you find for it?

I think I’m going to need a much larger balcony.

[Leave your comments below.]

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10 Comments»

  Stephanie wrote @

Fresh pesto… yummy! Oh I didn’t know that there are so many kinds of basil. Good information for me 🙂 Sorry, I cook mainly Chinese dishes and do not use basil. But I like the aroma and taste of basil in Vietnamese beef noodle soup… Super yummy!

  Jeanne Grunert wrote @

I love basil! I just wrote an article on how to grow and use cinnamon basil for eHow. Basil is easy to grow for me once it gets warm and I love drying it and using it year round.

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

Jeanne,
I read your article on cinnamon basil; it was very informative. Those looking to grow some or who are just curious should check it out… Maybe I’ll try some next year. Your suggestion for using it in Middle Eastern dishes is perfect. Maybe to flavor a roast chicken or in a couscous… Cheers!

  Jackie wrote @

I love basil, especially pinching out the tops!
Also, I gave you an award; it’s on my blog: http://jackiessecretgarden.blogspot.com/

Cheers,
Jackie

  Weeping Sore wrote @

I’ve tried to grow basil from seed for about 6 years now, and this is the first season I’ve succeeded. My stunted sprouts of the lovely purple are considering whether or not to commit assisted suicide. I tend to misjudge the need for water…
The best thing to do with the red basil is to dress just-harvested new tomatoes with your favorite dressing and sprinkle generously with the basil. Good, fresh, pungent. What’s not to like?

  Muum wrote @

I am learning more about basil, and love it more and more . I have some volunteer purple ruffles (and when I say ‘some’ I mean hundreds) that are fun to put in with the flower pots for a sophisticated/ surprising color. thanks for visiting my blog, finally have ‘iris week’ going!

  kara wrote @

I love growing basil! I have been lucky this year- my basil plants are the size of bushes.

Have you tried making home made pesto yet? It is fantastic! Everything tastes better straight from the garden!

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

Kara,
I agree! Homemade pesto is the best and I usually make tons of it by end-of-summer and give it away to friends. Your plants are way ahead of mine, though. I have mere sprouts so far, so it’ll take a few weeks before mine become bushes! Cheers!

  MegHuff wrote @

I love basil as well! I haven’t grown it before but this year I’m trying: thai basil, sweet basil, cinnamon basil, and lemon basil. I’m looking forward to making pesto!

  Avis Weathersbee wrote @

Meg,
You’ll have to keep me posted on the uses you find for the Thai and cinnamon basil. I’m growing lime basil myself, which probably is similar to your lemon. Cheers!


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