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Basil The King of Herbs

Basil The King of Herbs

Basil The King of Herbs

Basil, (Ocimum basilicum), is one of the topmost grown annual herbs that belong to the Lamiaceae or Mint family. 

It is native to South Asia and widely used all over the world as a kitchen companion. Leaves of basil are used, both fresh and dried, to flavor salads, sauces, meat, and fish. 

The leaves are glossy and oval-shaped, with smooth and toothed edges. They are arranged oppositely around the stem. Small flowers appear at terminal clusters with colors ranging from white to magenta. The basil grows robustly in warm weather and is sensitive to frost conditions. Fungal infections like Fusarium wilt, Downey mildew, and blight cause huge losses to the herb. 

Sweet Basil is grown all over the world because of its sweet taste and spicy flavor. 

Purple basil (less sweet than common basil), Thai basil (Licorice Flavor), and Leamon basil (Lemon Flavor) are grown for their distinctive flavor, taste, and aroma. 

Basil is commercially produced in France, Egypt, Israel, Mexico, Hungary, Indonesia, and United States. North America imports around 2000 tons of basil every year. 

Basil herb and its products are extensively used in local restaurants and hotels, herb industries to extract oil, and in households. 

 Botanical Classification

Kingdom:    Plantae 

Phylum:     Spermatophyta 

Class:        Magnoliopsida 

Order:       Lamiales

Family:      Lamiaceae or Mint 

Genus:       Ocimum

Specie:      Ocimum basilicum 

Origin

The origin of basil is India. Locally, it is known as Tulsi. It reached Mediterranean Region via spice routes. Because of its distinctive flavor and aroma, it was brought to Europe and African countries. Today, basil has world domination and is grown in almost every country. 

Basil Plant Description

Stem: 

The stem is herbaceous with young tissue cells. When the herb matures, the stem becomes woody.

Leaves: 

Leaves are oval-shaped and broad. The size and color of leaves vary from variety to variety. The color may be yellowish-green, bright green, or a mix of red. The size and color of leaves depend on the genetics of the variety and availability of fertilizers in the soil. 

Flowers: 

Flowers of basil are small.

They appear in summer on the ends of the branches. 

Seeds: 

Basil produces seeds in flowers. Their color varies from brown to black. The shape of the seeds is oblong.

Types of basil

There are hundreds of basil varieties with varying flower colors and leaves shapes. Each variety has a distinctive taste and smell. You can opt for one or two of the following varieties to grow in your lawn:

Sweet basil: 

Well, how strange it is. Sweet basil tastes sweet. It is the most common basil grown all over the world. It grows up to 12 to 14 inches in height. You cannot miss the taste and aroma of sweet basil. It has a spicy clove-like taste. 

Genovese: 

If you want to grow a productive and vigorously growing sweet basil in your garden or lawn, then Genovese is the best choice for you. It is popular among gardeners because of the best growth habit and makes a good pesto. Genovese adds strong flavor and taste to your dishes, such as salads. Pesto. Burgers, etc. The chances of bolting are minimal as compared to sweet basil. 

Lemon Basil: 

It is easily identifiable in gardens and lawns due to pale brown leaves and green stems. The best part of lemon basil is its lemon flavor and aroma. You can grow lemon basil in pots and outdoor gardens quickly because it is easily manageable. 

Cinnamon Basil: 

It is known as Mexican basil. It is the most productive and high-yielding basil among other basil varieties. You can grow Cinnamon basil easily if you are a resident of sub-tropical and tropical climates. The optimum temperature to grow cinnamon basil lies between 27 to 30 degrees. It is endowed with cinnamate compounds which give distinctive flavor and taste.

Thai Basil:

Thai basil is popular in homes and restaurants where Asian food is cooked. It is aesthetically beautiful and tastes flavorful.  

You can easily identify it by looking at its dark green lustrous leaves, dark purple stem with lustrous pink flowers. 

Tulsi Holy:

This variety is popular and trending since ancient ages in India. Hindus considered it as scared because of the Hinduism ideology of Tulsi.

Tulsi has some fruity smell and spicy flavor. 

How to grow basil outdoors?

You can grow basil outdoors easily. Just make sure you have selected such a spot in the garden that offers at least 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight. Scatter the seeds as much as you can to the field to make sure 80 to 90% of germination success ratio. Cover the seeds with soil and water regularly. An ample supply of water allows better germination of seeds and boosts the growth and development of seedlings. 

If you opt to grow the herb from the seedlings, select healthy seedlings from the nursery. Dig out small holes at equal intervals and put the seedlings in the soil. Cover the seedling with soil and apply water to the basil plantings. Grow the basil outdoors when the frost and freezing period has expired. A slight wave of frost and freezing weather will kill the seed and seedlings. 

Basil is a cold-sensitive crop.

Remove all the weeds, apply organic fertilizers and water regularly. If the taste of basil has faded, it might be because of the emergence of flowers at axial shoots. 

Remove all the flowers from stems. It allows the herbs to retain the lost flavor.

How to grow basil Indoors?

Sometimes we all struggle for a piece of land to grow herbs. We wish for an alternative to solve this problem. Indoor gardening allows you to grow vegetables, herbs, small fruit plants, etc. in small pots or containers.

Container gardening is the art of growing plants in pots or containers.

Make sure the size of the pot or container is not small. Select medium size pots because they offer a pleasant space for basil roots to grow and absorb water and nutrients from the soil. 

Fill the pots with high-draining soils. Soggy soils hold moisture for long period and lead to the development of fungal and bacterial infections such as root rot. 

Basil is a nutrient exhaustive crop, meaning it needs an exorbitant amount of nutrients for proper growth and development. Apply the fertilizers to the pots for the robust growth and development of basil. 

Maintaining normal pH (6 to 7.5) is as important as applying fertilizers and filling the pot with well-draining soil.  

Basil requires 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight to grow and thrive. Keep the pots in south-facing windows. South-facing windows receive maximum sunlight during the day.

Otherwise, you can opt for fluorescent bulbs. 

Take care of the following, basil will take care of itself.

Grow the basil in soft loam soils. They are well-draining and maintain a pH of around 6 to 7.5 all year round.

 Is farming your hobby? Check the plant daily for various fungal, bacterial, and insectile attacks. Apply fungicides and insecticides to kill any forms of fungal and viral infections.

Organic fertilizers are considered the best choice for outdoor gardening. Synthetic fertilizers such as SeaMax Fish and Kelp are widely used in indoor pot gardens.

Water the garden and pot every 1 to 3 days during hot sunny days. 

Trimming or pruning is part and parcel of herbal management and recommended for the vigorous growth of the basil. This practice allows the basil to grow new leaves. 

Pruning helps us not to over-crowd the herbs. Overcrowding leads to various fungal and bacterial infections. 

Campion crops are like our friends to the basil herb in the garden. They allow useful insects towards the herbs and repel all the insects and birds from the basil gardening site. 

Removing weeds from the ground is as much important as pruning the herb to maximize the productivity of the garden. Discard all the weeds from the garden field.

Harvesting-All the hard work is paying off.

The part of the basil that is harvested and the timing of the harvest depends on the anticipated use of the herb. Basil leaves are harvested before maturity to dry them and store them.

If you want to extract basil essential oil, harvest the plant when the herb is in the phase of full bloom. 

If you are a resident of warmer climates, you can harvest the herb 3 to 5 times during each growing season. Residents of cooler climates can harvest their herbs two times in one growing season. 

Pinch the tender leaves of the branches and do it 2 to 5 times during the summer season for continual harvest. 

Packing and storing the harvest

If you want to market your basil herb, wash the leaves with clean water, remove weeds and other contaminants from the basil. You can store the basil in medium-size jars or plastic containers and keep them in a cool and dry place. 

Solving Basil Common Problems

Now we will investigate some major issues related to basil herb such as yellow leaves, brown leaves, powdery substance on leaves, and much more so that you can take care of the herb whenever the below-mentioned problems pop up in the field.

Yellow leaves:

Yellow leaves develop because of Fusarium Wilt or a lack of nitrogen in the soil. If the herb is fungal infected and is severe, then you should un plant it as soon as possible.

If the yellowing of the herb is because of a lack of nitrogen, then it can be treated by applying nitrogen fertilizers

 Brown leaves:

Water stress or under watering leads to browning of the leaves. Basil is a water adoring herb. Never let your garden soil getting dry. 

Powdery substances on leaves:

Sometimes you might have seen the leaves surface covered with a brown, white or grayish colored powder in the garden. This is because of powdery mildew.

Once the herb gets infected with powdery mildew, then there is no way to go back to the normal state of the plant. 

So, pull off the herb from the ground and throw it away to minimize the chances of powdery mildew infection. 

Basil not growing:

Most growers complain about this. They think they have done everything but in the end, all in vain. Here, water availability is below normal, and soil is not moist.

Too cold environmental conditions play their part to induce stunted growth in the herb.

To overcome this problem, water the field when the soil is less moist. Make sure the temperature is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Keep the herbs in full sunlight and avoid keeping the herb in shade for too long.

 Weak Growth:

Plants make their food through photosynthesis. This process allows plants to prepare their food for growth and development. 

Sunlight plays a key role in photosynthesis. Bring out the indoor herbs outside to make the plants grow bigger.

Basil is Wilting: 

Plants lose their upright position due to wilting. This is caused by the limited supply of water to the root section of plants. 

Whenever you see a wilted plant in the garden, water it properly. This practice will reverse wilting. 

Fungal infections play a key role in inducing wilting in pants Check for fungal infestation. If found any signs of fungal attack apply fungicides. 

Bolting: 

You may think that bolting is a bacterial or fungal disease. No, it is not. It means the basil plant is going to produce seeds. Bolting control is not in your hands. It will continue to bolt and produce seeds. 

Yes, you can slow the process by watering the field or pot of basil properly. The second way to slow down the process is not applying high-phosphorus fertilizers to the field.

I would suggest pinching out the flowering parts as soon as they start to appear.

Frequently Asked Questions

These are the topmost googled questions about basil.

Does basil need direct sunlight?

No one is going to deny the importance of sunlight for the proper nourishment of the basil. It requires 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight. 

If you do not have such a spot in your garden still you can propagate basil pants. Basil grows in partial shade as well, but the rate of growth and development will be less as compared to basil plants growing in I direct impact of sunlight.

Why do my basil plants die? 

It is because of improper watering. On some occasions, the plant will die because of bacterial and pathogenic infections.  

How long does basil? 

Mint plants and herbs remain fresh until the growing summer season. After that, they expire.

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