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Ocimum Basilicum, Sweet Basil

£0.79

Sweet basil has been used for thousands of years as a culinary and medicinal herb.

The growing or dried plant is an effective insect repellent. It is a good plant to grow in the home, where it repels flies, or in the greenhouse where it can keep all manner of insect pests away from nearby plants. It has been used in the past as a strewing herb.

Basil is a perennial plant in the tropics, but it is frost tender and needs to be grown as a half-hardy annual in temperate zones. It requires a good hot summer in Britain if it is to do well outdoors.

It is a very good companion plant to grow in the house or greenhouse, its aromatic foliage helping to reduce problems caused by insect pests.

Sweet basil is a good companion plant for tomatoes but it grows badly with rue and sage. When grown near raspberries it can retard their fruiting.

Sow mid to late spring in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Germination is usually free and quick, prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing basil outdoors, plant out after the last expected frosts.

Edible uses

Leaves and flowers - raw or cooked. Used as a flavouring or as a spinach, they are used especially with tomato dishes, pasta sauces, beans, peppers and aubergines. The leaves are normally used fresh but can also be dried for winter use. A very pleasant addition to salads, the leaves have a delightful scent of cloves. Use the leaves sparingly in cooking because the heat concentrates the flavour.
A refreshing tea is made from the leaves. The seed can be eaten on its own or added to bread dough as a flavouring. When soaked in water it becomes mucilaginous and can be made into a refreshing beverage called 'sherbet tokhum' in the Mediterranean.
An essential oil obtained from the plant is used as a food flavouring in mustards, sauces, vinegars etc.
 
 

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