A plant of Indian origin, it is cited in ancient human literature as being sacred. It was considered as a purifier and protector of homes and is cited by the Greeks, Romans and Indians for its magical and medicinal properties.
Originally an annual plant, basil was transformed according to the environments where it was introduced, until it became perennial (lasting more than a year) in hot regions. It is a shrub that does not tolerate frosts, but spreads very well and adapts to different types of soil, as long as it does not lack water.
How about trying it at home
It can be in the garden, backyard, on the balcony or in a corner of your kitchen. To plant a basil plant you will need a medium-sized pot for the beginning. After about three months, the pot can be changed according to the growth of the crown. Remember that it is the projection of the root, so knowing how to differentiate your varieties is important when deciding the size and the place where it will be grown.
There are different types of basil: they all belong to the same family. They only differ in the size of the leaves and the intensity of the aroma. With a strong flavour, Genoese basil (Ocimum basilicum) can have larger or smaller leaves, but always within the size of a digital mark, the largest leaf, being the size of a thumb mark. And the smallest leaf the size of a fingerprint of the little finger.
Of a lighter vivid green and sometimes, with a small feather on the leaves, the basil genovés is the one that is used in the preparation of pesto (an Italian sauce to be used in pasta, made from olive oil, nuts, garlic and many basil leaves). Besides garnish for tomato salads and white cheese, it can also be boiled to obtain a soft and very digestive tea.
The Genoese can reach a height of 1.20m and a thickness of 1m. This variety adapts very well to light and sandy soils, with a predominantly dry climate. It attracts a lot of bees.
There is another variety called Thai basil (Ocimum basilicum var. thyrsiflora), which has a sweeter, almost aniseed aroma and has tenderer, more pointed leaves and a purplish colouration on the young leaves, precisely because it is tender. This type needs more humidity and is more susceptible to cold, and can die if the temperature is below 18oC. Thai can grow very well in clayey soils, but it has drainage requirements.
The giant basil, also known as a Lavaca (Ocimum basilicum L.), is nothing more than basil of larger dimensions, reaching 2m by 3m with dark green leaves, pointed and with the most evident veins, with purple flowers and sweetest taste.
How to plant? Basil propagation occurs both by seeds and by splitting cuttings (when the stem of the plant is placed in the soil). I explain better. By dividing cuttings, it is enough to cut one branch diagonally, with three or more lateral buds (divisions of the branches) and place in the soil permanently moist until new roots come out and the plant forms a new bud (bud). It is possible to do the same in water.
Once the new root is visible and bifurcated within the glass (three to four weeks), it is replanted in a pot with soil where a hole covered with soil and water is made to form mud, to where it is then carefully transferred so as not to break the aquatic root. Keep the plant in a mild environment until it creates new branches and it can support itself in dry conditions.
Seed planting is quite simple, but winter cold must be avoided. You can germinate indoors if you live in a very cold part of the country. In basil, the seeds are harvested from the floral bunches (just shake them in a white paper bag or envelope). They are very small, small black spots, and should be planted in the shade, in a perforated tray for the exit of the water, filled with sifted soil and covered with dry straw. In general, the basil seeds are born in two weeks and one month, you will already have several seedlings to transplant.
When transplanting the new seedling, make sure that your plant already has at least five leaves. Try to place them in sunny places, next to a tomato plant or near the water outlet of a gutter on the roof.
How to take care of them?
As long as you grow without a flower, the basil plant will provide more leaves. For continuous production, it is recommended to remove the floral branches because, after flowering, the branch becomes woody and the number of essential oil decreases in the leaves of the plant.
After a while, set aside a part of your plant to flower and harvest the seeds and generate new seedlings. As it is originally an annual plant, basil can last for many years, giving the impression of being perennial because in warm climates it does not die like annual ones. However, basil can become worn out by successive pruning or sudden changes in temperature. Always try to fertilize it with manure and ash.
Finally, water basil abundantly every day if you live in a very dry climate. In other regions, my tip is to water three times a week, if the climate where you are is humid.