Basil: Sweet (Ocimum basilicum)
Harvesting & Storage
Nutrition & Health
Grown as: Annual
Maturity: June to frost
Hardiness: Very Tender. Basil is not at all hardy and can't stand any frost.
Crops: Spring Transplant, Summer
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Warm, Hot. Basil is very unhappy if it isn't warm, so in cooler areas it should be in the warmest spot in the garden. If this still isn't warm enough then grow it under cloches. It will tolerate some shade when growing in hot climates, but does better in full sun.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 60°F - 90°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 70°F. Basil needs warm (75ºF - 85ºF) soil.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: Yes
Light: Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Warm, Hot). Full sun.
Water: Moderate. Basil likes evenly moist soil.
Feeder: Light. Low nitrogen. Low potassium. Low phosphorous. Basil isn't a very hungry plant, but for maximum leaf production it should be given fertile soil.
Suitability: High heat
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. Basil does well in containers as small as a one gallon plant pot, and is great to grow on the kitchen windowsill (especially in cool climates). Transplant one seedling per 6" pot or 3 seedlings per 12" pot. Because basil is a heat-loving plant, it is crucial to place the container in an area with access to at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. Basil requires temperatures of 75 degrees F or higher in order to thrive, so it's not the best option for Winter growing (unless you keep your house well-heated.) Use well-drained, nutrient-rich potting soil and keep the soil moist but not overly wet.
Attracts beneficial insects?: Yes
Sow Depth: 1/4”
Produces: a plant with medium green leaves and spikes of white or pale pink flowers.
USDA Grow Zone: 3-9
Garden Uses: As a seasoning herb in many vegetable and meat dishes, or as a key ingredient of pesto and other condiments.
Water Needs: Moderate. Basil likes evenly moist soil.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. Low nitrogen. Low potassium. Low phosphorous. Basil isn't a very hungry plant, but for maximum leaf production it should be given fertile soil.
Watering, regularly: Water, 0.5 inch(es), regularly, 2 times a week. Watering also depends on your local weather; don't water if it's raining, or water more frequently if it's dry. Just be sure to keep soil moist but never soggy for the best crop. The best way to know how much moisture is in your soil is to feel 2" below the soil line. If it's dry, water. Dry soil may encourage the plants to bolt.
Side Dressing, regularly: Compost tea, 5 gallon(s) per 100 sq. ft., regularly, every 3 weeks
If you are repeatedly harvesting from the same plants, you should give them a liquid feed of compost tea, liquid kelp or fish emulsion), every three weeks. Apply this as a soil drench, rather than as a foliar feed, as you don't want to spray the leaves and then eat them. Don't harvest within 2 weeks of feeding.
Weeding, after sowing: after sowing, 1 time a week. Be sure to keep the young plants free of weeds.
Pruning, when 6" tall: when 6" tall, 1 time. The growing tips should be pinched out when the plants are 6˝ to 8˝ tall (this is actually the first harvest). This causes them to send up two growing tips, making the plants bushier and larger.
Pruning, at flowering: at flowering, 2 times a week. Basil stops producing leaves once the flower starts. Continually pinching the flowers off can prolong the harvest of the leaves.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: 1-360 days
It is possible to store the fresh leaves by packing them in a jar and covering with olive oil.
Storage Req: Canning
Storage Temp: °F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
The easiest way to store Basil is to dry it in a warm shady place. This alters its flavor considerably, but it is still very good. It must be dried quickly though; if it takes too long it will deteriorate and turn black. Store in an airtight container in the pantry or on the spice rack.
Storage Req: Dry, Drying, Warm
Storage Temp: °F
Storage Length: 1-360 days
Basil has thin leaves and wilts quickly once cut. It will keep for a few days in a plastic bag in the fridge. You can also extend its life by keeping it in water like cut flowers (still store in fridge).
Storage Req: Refrigerator
Storage Temp: 35-40°F
Storage Length: 1-5 days
Seed Viability in Years: 5-8 years
Germination Percentage: 75%
Culinary Use: It is one of the most important culinary herbs of all (in Greece it's known as the king of herbs). It is traditionally used to flavor tomatoes and eggs and is an essential ingredient of Italian and Thai cooking. Probably its best-known use is for making pesto (or the French equivalent pistou). Great used fresh or dried!
Do not plant near rue or sage.
The Health Benefits of Basil Seeds
Skin Care: With such an impressive concentration of antioxidants and flavonoids, basil seeds are able to improve the health of the skin and stimulate the growth of new cells. The antioxidants are able to counter the effects of free radicals, which can cause oxidative stress and eventually lead to cellular mutation, resulting in wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes. Regular use of these seeds can reduce the appearance of those marks, as well as scars and act as an anti-aging substance.
Hair Care: With a significant level of iron and various antioxidants, as well as vitamin K, basil seeds can stimulate the production of hair and prevent premature hair loss. The iron is essential for circulation to drive blood to the scalp and is also required for the production of strong hair from the follicles. The antioxidants in these seeds will help prevent inflammation and oxidative stress on the scalp, which can often lead to hair loss.
Weight Loss: Basil seeds are extremely high in fiber, which works to bulk up the stool and make you feel full to prevent overeating and snacking between meals. Furthermore, when these seeds are digested, they may swell to 20 times their original size, physically filling you up and satisfying your appetite, making it much easier to avoid those calorie-heavy snacks.
Lower Cholesterol Levels: Studies have shown that sweet basil seeds are directly associated with a decrease in LDL or bad cholesterol levels, which means a lower risk of atherosclerosis and plaque deposition in the arteries and blood vessels. This will also reduce strain on the heart and reduce your chances of heart attack and stroke.
Control Blood Pressure: Research has found that the level of potassium in basil seeds is enough to directly impact blood pressure. This hypotensive effect is because potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it can relax the tension in the arteries and blood vessels, thus reducing strain on the cardiovascular system.
Boost Bone Health: With a diverse range of minerals in basil seeds, including iron, potassium, copper, calcium, manganese, and magnesium, eating these seeds on a regular basis will help improve bone mineral density. This will lower your risk of developing osteoporosis, keeping you feeling young and strong as you age.
Prevent Diseases: There is a notable amount of vitamin A and other antioxidants in basil seeds, which can help reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation around the body. This will lower the pressure on your immune system, and also prevent a number of different pathogenic infections and medical conditions. Chronic disease is also caused by an excess of free radicals in the body, which is countered by dietary supplementation with sabja seeds.
Control Blood Sugar: A number of studies have shown that the active ingredients, such as dietary fiber, found in basil seeds are able to control blood sugar levels. For people suffering from type 2 diabetes, this is a very important benefit of these seeds, as the inability to control insulin and glucose levels is a potentially deadly part of that condition. A glass of water with basil seeds in the morning can improve your insulin sensitivity throughout the day.
Cooling Effects: In many Asian countries, basil seeds are famed for their cooling effects on the body, as they can help retain the cold temperatures of beverages and essentially soothe the stomach. While this is a vague and somewhat arbitrary health benefit, these seeds are popularly consumed by people suffering from fevers and other inflammatory conditions, where this cooling effect seems most pronounced.
Relieve Stress: If your mind is racing and your stress levels continue to climb, a glass of water filled with basil seeds might be a quick and simple solution to your anxiety. Research has found that regular consumption of basil seeds can help reduce episodes of depression, boost your mood, and reduce levels of stress hormones in the body.
Improve Vision: Given these seeds’ notable amount of vitamin A, they are often recommended for people with failing vision or those with high levels of oxidative stress. Vitamin A acts as a powerful antioxidant in the retina, preventing the development of cataracts and slowing down the advent of macular degeneration.
Relieve Pain: When it comes to conditions like arthritis, gout, headaches, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), basil seeds are known to reduce the severity of those episodes and provide pain relief rather quickly. By preventing the release of pro-inflammatory compounds and cytokines, the active ingredients in these seeds take an active role in many common health conditions.
Basil Seeds Side Effects:
These seeds can deliver a significant number of health benefits, but that comes along with a few side effects, such as the choking hazard they pose, as well as potential hormone fluctuations.
Pregnant Women: One of the side effects of basil seeds is their potential impact on hormone levels in the body, namely estrogen. This can be dangerous for pregnant women, as it can stimulate menstruation and may result in complications for the baby.
Thyroid Issues: Those who suffer from thyroid imbalances or other hormonal issues should not use these seeds before speaking with their doctor.
Choking Hazard: Due to the effect that water and liquids have on these seeds, an improper ratio of liquid to seeds can result in a large gelatinous clump that can potentially be difficult to swallow. For this reason, these seeds are not recommended for anyone with swallowing difficulties, young children or the elderly.
Health Benefits of Basil Essential Oils
The leaves and seeds of the basil plant are the important medicinal parts of this herb, which is regularly used in cuisines and recipes all over the world. Basil essential oil is popular in Europe, Central Asia, India and Southeast Asia. The oil is extensively used for culinary purposes in the Mediterranean region and still forms the active ingredient of many Italian recipes such as pesto. It is also used when making pasta and salads.
Basil was widely used in ancient times in places like India for various medicinal purposes (Ayurvedic medicine). The herb was used to treat diarrhea, cough, mucous discharges, constipation, indigestion, and certain skin diseases.
Cosmetic Applications: Basil essential oil is used topically and massaged into the skin. It enhances the luster of dull-looking skin and hair. As a result, it is extensively used in many skin care supplements that claim to improve the tone of your skin. It is also commonly used to treat the symptoms of acne and other skin infections.
Digestion: Basil essential oil is also used as a digestive tonic. Since basil oil has carminative properties, it is used for treating indigestion, constipation, stomach cramps and flatulence. It provides immediate relief from the gas in your stomach and intestines. It also has colic qualities and is therefore used to alleviate bowel pain.
Illness: Basil essential oil is effective in providing relief from colds, influenza and associated fevers. Due to its antispasmodic nature, it is frequently used to treat symptoms of whooping cough.
Respiratory: Along with its function in relieving coughs, it can also be used to treat asthma, bronchitis, and sinus infections.
Infections: Basil oil is good for treating a variety of infections such as cuts, wounds, skin infections, and bladder infections due to its antibacterial properties. It is also good for viral infections that attack the body and can enter the body through other wounds.
Stress Disorders: This essential oil has a refreshing effect when smelled or consumed, so it is used for treating nervous tension, mental fatigue, melancholy, migraines and depression. Due to the calming nature of basil essential oil, it is widely used in aromatherapy. Regularly using this essential oil provides mental strength and clarity.
Blood Circulation: It improves blood circulation and helps to increase and optimized various metabolic functions of the body.
Pain Relief: Basil essential oil is an analgesic and provides relief from pain. That is why this essential oil is often used in the treatment of arthritis, wounds, injuries, burns, bruises, scars, sports injuries, surgical recovery, sprains, and headaches.
Eye Health: It is ophthalmic and can quickly relieve bloodshot eyes.
Vomiting and Nausea: It can be used to prevent vomiting, particularly when the source of the nausea is motion sickness, but also from many other causes.
Itching: Basil essential oil is also a good treatment for itching from bites and stings from honey bees, insects and even snakes.
Word of Caution: Basil essential oil and basil in any other form should be avoided by pregnant, breastfeeding, or nursing women. On the other hand, some people suggest that it increases milk flow, but more research needs to be done.
Asparagus: Mary Washington (Heirloom) (Asparagus officinalis)
Oregano: Greek (Origanum vulgare hirtum)
Oregano: Italian (Origanum vulgare)
Italian Oregano is a very popular "pizza herb" widely used in Italian, Greek and Mexican cooking. Leaves can be used fresh or dried and add warm spicy flavor to your favorite recipes! Bright blue-green plants grow 6" tall and up to 24" in diameter. Leaves can be harvested in 85 to 95 days (before flowers appear). Perennial. Drought tolerant.