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Italian Basil – Sweet Basil or Genovese Basil?...

You may find yourself looking for Italian basil in the grocery store after discovering a delicious sounding recipe that calls for it. However, you may have trouble finding it. Italian basil is not a real cultivar of basil. It is a general term for the types of basil that may be used in Italian cooking…

Getting Rid of Basil Pests

No garden would be complete without a few residents making their homes in or around your basil plants. Some creatures can be beneficial to the garden environment while some are bad for your harvest. I have compiled a need-to-know list of some of the most common problem makers when it comes to growing basil and what you can do to get them under control…

Help! Common Problems with Growing Basil

Basil is a highly resilient herb. While it does not suffer from as many problems with pests and diseases as other herbs, you may find you need a little guidance from time to time. Here I have answered some of the most common questions and concerns surrounding the basil garden. When I sowed basil seeds this year, the seedlings germinated and started to grow, but then suddenly perished. This is most likely a disease called damping-off fungus. If starting in containers, try using a sterilized container. Try not to over-water. The soil should just remain damp. Ensure good air circulation as well. My basil plant stopped growing and lost its color. When I dug it up the roots they appear dark and slimy. This is root rot, caused by a variety of fungi. Try not to over-water. Water only when the soil is dry and make sure before you plant anything that you have good drainage! My plant has developed spots on its leaves. This is leaf spot disease. Remove the spotted leaves from your herb. To mitigate this problem, water in the morning if possible and try not to let the foliage get wet. My basil plant is withered and distorted and the leaves have curled.  Sometimes there is a black, sooty substance on the leaves. This is the work of Aphids, also known as plant lice. See the article Getting Rid of Basil Pests for how to remove this pest from your garden. What is the sooty black substance left behind by aphids? This is called honeydew, a substance secreted by aphids. Black powdery mold will often grow on the honeydew. This mold can be washed off after the aphid problem has been controlled. Holes are being chewed into the leaves of my basil plant. This is likely the work of beetles. See the article Getting Rid of Basil Pests for how to get rid of these pests. When I brush against the leaves of my herbs, a cloud of tiny white insects appear. What are they and are they harmful? These are most likely an insect known as the whitefly. They will suck sap from your herbs and plants. See the article Getting Rid of Basil Pests for how to get rid of these pests. My basil plant wilted and lost its color. When I dug it up there was swelling on the roots. This is most likely damage caused by the nematode. Try to move your basil plants to a different location next time you plant and avoid that spot for three to four years....

History of Basil and Other Tidbits

Basil, one of the oldest herbs, is believed to have originated in India and spread to Europe via the Middle East. Throughout history it has been regarded as having extraordinary powers, claiming fame in the realms of religion, medicine and cooking. Its name is derived from the Greek ‘basileus’ which means ‘king’.  It has been used as an antidote for snake bites, and to give ancient peoples a source of strength during religious fasting. It has been called the ‘herb of poverty’ and is supposed to provide protection to those who are in need and destitute. Medicine Basil is often overlooked as a remedy for common health problems, although various civilizations have been using it for thousands of years. A quick list of conditions that basil is supposed to help with include: poor digestion, flatulence, headaches, anxiety, vomiting, cramps, poor memory, travel sickness, common cold and high levels of cholesterol. Lastly, it has antiseptic properties. In India, the variety of herb called Basil Tulsi is used in Ayurvedic medicine and often made into tea. Here is a simple recipe for tea made from basil: Basil Tea Ingredients: 1 tbsp fresh (or 1 tsp dried) basil 1&1/4 cup of water Directions: Chop the basil until the pieces are relatively small. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Put the basil into the water and let it steep for five minutes. Strain out the leaves. Other Uses Here are some other ways in which basil can be used: Indoor basil plants have been used to keep flies away Different varieties of basil produce beautiful flowers and buds, the stems of which can be used in flower arrangements (Dark Opal, for example). Some varieties of basil make good hedges or border plants for gardens Can be used as an ingredient in potpourri Can be used in the making of soaps and scented...

How to Dry Basil Leaves

Learning how to dry basil is an art as much as it is a science and everyone has their preferred method. Be warned that basil is notorious for turning brown when dried, however, this does not negate its use for cooking or other purposes. Now that you’ve been well advised, let’s take a look at the various methods for drying basil.