Welcome to my website. Its about growing fresh herbs amongst my vegetables and fruit trees and their use in the kitchen. The presence of these herbs benefits the other edible plants by attracting pollinators and helping to repel pests. They add beauty and pleasant aromas to my garden with their attractive foliage and flowers...............John Ashworth 27th July 2015.
Growing Sweet Basil
Latest Update 22nd July 2016.
Sweet Basil is easy to grow as an annual and provides my tomatoes with protection against insect pests. As a culinary herb I use it to flavour tomatoes, but I like it most in Pesto.
Similar to most herbs it is very rich in minerals, vitamins and dietary fibre.
Grown from Australian organic seeds its usually pest free in my garden.
The leaves are at their tastiest harvested before the plants starts to flower.
I store surplus basil in small bottles dried and ground to a course powder, but to preserve its flavour best, it can be pureed with water and frozen for later use in soups and casseroles.
Good companions: Tomatoes, capsicum, apricots and parsley.
Climate: Warm temperate.
Geographic hemisphere: Southern.
This food is low in saturated fat, and very low in sodium and cholesterol.
It is a good source of protein, vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), riboflavin and niacin, and a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin
A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper and manganese
Basil needs full sun, although broad leaf varieties will tolerate semi shade.
It is frost tender, but even in warmer climates it is usually grown as an annual.
It prefers well-drained soil, and grows best if the soil is kept moist.
In September, remove organic litter and old mulch from the selected space in an Ecobed. Add a 60mm layer of homemade compost and cover with 50mm of straw mulch.
Leave the bed for 4
weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.
Sow basil seeds in August on the surface of an organic seed growing mix in a mini pot.
the mini pot for an hour in a tray containing 10mm of water (preferably
rainwater). The water will move up into the soil without flooding it.
Sink the mini pot up to its rim in a propagator. This will
keep the soil moist until the seedlings are ready to
transplant. Protect the seedlings from frost.
4 weeks transplant the seedlings individually into organic potting mix in jiffypots and returned them to the propagator.
further 4 weeks clear some spaces in the mulch in the selected bedand plant the seedlings, still in their jiffy pots, 500mm apart .
Cover the exposed soil with mulch once the sweet basil is established.
Apply a foliar spray of aerated compost tea every 4 weeks when the other edible plants are sprayed.
Harvesting and Storage
Sweet basil can
be harvested from December till May.
Handle basil carefully to avoid bruising and blackening the leaves. Harvest
a few leaves at a time when the plants are big enough. Take a few from
each plant to stimulate new leaf growth without stripping any plant
Remove flowers unless you are seed saving. The leaves lose their flavour as the plant diverts its energy and nutrients to developing flowers and seeds.
You can air-dry basil in small, loose bunches of leaves, but it retains its flavour best when frozen.
To freeze basil, puree washed leaves in a
blender or food processor, adding water as needed to make a thick pourable paste.
Pour the puree into ice-cube trays and freeze, then pop
them out and store them in labelled freezer bags to use as needed in
sauces, soups, and pesto.
Pesto is a creamy mixture of basil puree, chopped garlic, grated cheese,roasted chopped pine nuts and olive
oil. Once made, it will keep for a long time in the refrigerator with a thin layer of olive
oil on top.