Monday, November 10, 2014

From My Garden: Let's Grow Some Basil!


via Flickr by Till Westermayer
We love getting our hands dirty and flexing our green thumbs, and it's a great time of the year to do just that in Australia.

We are just about hitting peak season for planting basil, so be sure to get it into the garden soon! We love basil for its numerous varieties (Thai, lemon, sweet, purple...and the list goes on!), as well as its low-maintenance nature.

Basil’s primary use is in the kitchen. Common in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine, it’s best used fresh and only added to cooked dishes at the last moment since heat will quickly destroy the flavour.

Planting:

You have two different options for planting: you can start your plants from seed or you can buy seedlings and transplant them into your garden.

From Seed: Place your seed on top of the soil and cover with a small bit of potting mix. Make sure that your container is in the morning sun and you should have seedlings sprouting in a few short weeks.

Transplanting: This is best done in Australia between October and December, or when soil temperatures are between 18 and 35 degrees Celsius. Make sure that your plants are between 20-25 cm apart.

via Flickr by Alice Henneman
Location:

Basil plants really love the sun, but let the size of the leaf help you decide where to place them in the garden. The larger the leaf, the more shade your plant can tolerate.

Water:

Basil plants like fairly damp conditions...your best bet for testing this is to stick your index finger in the soil. When you remove your finger it should be damp with a little soil stuck to it; if not, it needs a drink!

Other Tips and Tricks:

Do not plant purple basil in full sun. This particular variety grows best if it is only exposed to morning sun.

Pick the leaves often and be sure to pinch out the top leaves! This encourages better plant growth and actually prolongs the life of your plant.

Fresh basil can be kept for a short period of time in the fridge if it’s stored in a plastic bag.

via Flickr by Amanda Slater
And of course we wouldn’t leave you with all these growing tips without a few recipe ideas to jump-start your culinary adventures!

Basil Pesto is an obvious classic. Check out Fifteen Spatulas’ simple and delicious recipe here.

via Fifteen Spatulas
Terri’s Table shows a great twist on the delicious Caprese salad. How cute are these little appetizers?!

via Terri's Table
A little spicy, a little sour – this is just the way we like our pho! Check out Cooking With a Wall Flower’s Pho Thai recipe here.

via Cooking With a Wall Flower