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Basil is an aromatic, easy to grow culinary herb, with 4 species that contain over 60 varieties. Native to china, Basil has spread to the Mediterranean and around the world. O. basilicum, is best known in Italian cuisine for its use in pesto and it's fresh or dried leaves that add flavor to salads, soups and sauces. Tulsi/Sacred Basil, (O.sanctum/tenuiflorum), is gaining great popularity as a soothing herbal tea in Aryuvedic medicine. Nutrients: vitamin C, calcium, vitamin A and phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and iron.
Basil is a frost sensitive annual that prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
Start basil seeds indoors 2-4 weeks before the last frost. Optimal soil temperatures for germination are 65-85°F. Transplant outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Sow seeds ¼" deep and 2-4" apart. Seeds will germinate in 7-14 days. Thin seedlings so mature plants are 10-14" apart. Seeds can also be direct sown outdoors once the danger of frost has passed. Basil also does well in containers.
Harvest leaves frequently throughout the growing season by pinching or snipping. For a continued harvest, remove any flowers that form. Leaves can be used fresh or dried in many dishes.