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The Basil Plant

Basil has been cultivated for over 5000 years. Derived from the Greek name "Basileus”, its origins can be traced back to India and Asia. It is common in Italian and South East Asian cooking. Another name for Basil in the English speaking countries is Saint Joseph's Wort and is part of the mint family of herbs. In addition to it flavor uses in various cuisines, basil has historically been used as a remedy to help with digestive problems. Amongst the most common type used for its medicinal purposes is Holy Basil and the most common utilized in cuisine is Sweet Basil. Due to basil being an annual plant unless in year around tropical climates, it is often dried to be used over cold seasons as frost will typically destroy it. Unfortunately, basil loses some of its flavor and medicinal properties when dried. To counter the disadvantages of drying basil, there are various preserving methods in keeping it as fresh as possible such as blanching then freezing them in olive oil. Basil is also an easy herb to grow indoors as many place them on kitchen windows with abundant sunlight.
The flowers in the basil plant will yield seeds to cultivate for the following upcoming seasons. It is recommended to wait until just before the next cold climate to allow flowers to appear as it will stop the plants growth of leaves. The flowers are also edible, but have a subtle flavor when compared to its leaves. To keep basil growing and producing leaves, it is best to cut the flowers as soon as they appear. Leaves or the flowers should be cut just above the cluster below to help new growth.
The use of basil seeds makes it easier to cultivate the plant, but not the only method. To grow basil without the use of seeds, you can simply cut the plant at the stem before flowering and place it in water with plenty of sunlight. Using a clear glass will allow you to see how roots growing better. Once roots are formed, generally in about a week, it can be transplanted in soil. When selecting the type of soil to be used, do not use flowering types found in home and garden stores. Instead, look for a soil and nutrient rich compost mixture that is easily drained. Basil does not need fertilizer as much as most other plants, but the same should be practiced when selecting which variety by staying away from the ones that encourage flower growth.


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