A life well-lived is not boring, and part of that should be not eating boring foods. Leave the bland meals for someone else and instead dine on those infused with flavor. An excellent way to do this is to cook with basil grown in the veggie garden.
Basil is a very fragrant plant that is widely used in cooking. It is a wonderful seasoning herb and is very popular in pesto. In addition to being delicious, basil is also quite healthy. It has flavonoids that have demonstrated an ability to protect human cells and chromosomes from damage as well as being able to inhibit growth of bacteria. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and can increase cardiovascular health. Additionally, basil contains beneficial nutrients such as vitamin K, manganese, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, folate, iron, omega-3 fats, and magnesium to the tune of only five calories per serving.
The leaves of the basil plant are round and frequently appear to have points, creating a similar appearance to its relative, peppermint. Although basil can be found in the grocery store, it is even better when grown in your own veggie garden, not to mention fresher and longer lasting. Plus it is very easy to grow, requiring minimal care.
In order to have health basil plants, the first thing to remember is that plants will need daily water. Hydration is very important for basil along with the occasional fertilizer infusion. Although commercial fertilizers are an option, use of coffee grounds has proven to work just fine. Sunlight is also vital to the growth of basil. Plants should get a minimum of six hours daily sunlight to maximize growth potential.
Basil plants also enjoy a tender touch. Running your hands along your basil plants on a regular basis is actually a way to generate growth. Basil also likes to have buddies nearby. Tomatoes in particular have a good relationship with basil and it is said that growing the two together in close proximity will enhance the growth and taste of both. Some other buddies of basil include asparagus, beans, beets, cabbage, chamomile, eggplant, oregano, potatoes, and sweet peppers. Do not grow rue or anise with basil as they are not good neighbors.
Controlling the pests on your basil plants is important as well. A spray made of diluted, natural dish soap is a good option. Although aphids can be a problem, basil is said to have some pest control properties of its own, however, being touted as repelling asparagus beetles, mosquitoes, and tomato hornworms. Basil also attracts butterflies but many gardeners pinch off basil flowers in order to focus more growth on the plant itself in terms of leaf production.
Left unchecked, some basil plants will grow tall and skinny. This is not ideal, however, and plants that do so should be topped in order to get them to a more efficient height. Ideally basil plants should be kept around a foot or so in height at most. This will help focus their energy on producing leaves for you to enjoy.
Ultimately basil is a very tasty plant that is easy to grow. When the weather permits, it can be grown successfully in the veggie garden, but it can also thrive inside. Simply place it near a window where sunlight is ample and adjust watering needs in order to enjoy delicious, fresh basil in many dishes all year long.