The unusual aroma of this plant is known to people from ancient times. A pinch of basil leaves gives a pleasant taste to any dish, especially this spice ennobles the taste of salads. In folk medicine, basil is used to gargle, drink infusion for headaches, it is useful for the stomach. The whole aerial part of the basil has a spicy smell, and the bouquet of aroma, depending on the variety, is very diverse: allspice and tea, clove-mint, cloves and bay leaves, lemon and anise.
Fresh leaves contain vitamins C, B1, B2, PP, essential oils. Basil oil contains substances that are beneficial for humans: camphor, cineole, octimene, saponin, methylchavinol. In addition, plants contain volatile. This plant repels and partially causes the death of some insect pests. Its insecticidal properties are used by amateur gardeners to protect plants from aphids, spider mites and other ground insects in the open ground and at room conditions, arranging pots with basil among the affected plants or planting them with plots. Use dry greens.
The Latin name for the genus Basil is Ocimum. Currently, about 79 species of this plant are known.
Basil is a highly branched plant with tetrahedral stems 30 to 60 cm high. Its leaflets are oblong-ovate, spongy, green or purple up to 5.5 cm long. At the ends of the stems, the basil throws inflorescences in the form of tassels consisting of several flowers. Their color can be different: pink, white, white-purple.
The stems, leaves and calyxes of the flower are rough to the touch. They contain glands that accumulate the essential oil, which determines the aroma of this plant, as well as the pleasant smell and taste of the dishes in which it is added.
Common BasilOr fragrant basil, or garden basil, or camphor basil (Ocīmum basilīicum) - a spicy-aromatic plant, whose homeland is considered to be South Asia. Herbarium books indicate that it entered Europe only in the 16th century. Quickly won the sympathy of the Europeans with its fragrant smell. It was considered a spice worthy of the attention of kings. It also spread rapidly in Africa, on the islands of the Pacific Ocean.
In the Middle Ages, oriental spices somewhat pushed basil to the background. But he never went out of use. Basil has always been recommended to use in limited quantities, since its aroma is quite intense. Diascorides, however, directly in his manuscripts warned of the limited use of this spice under the pretext that it may affect vision loss.
Basil since the Second World War, when it happened, as it were, the "second discovery", is widely cultivated in Europe, the North Caucasus, Crimea, Central Asian states, and Moldova. When creating the appropriate conditions, it grows in open and closed ground in central Russia. Cultivated in the Krasnodar Territory, Georgia.
It has other names: garden basil, fragrant cornflowers, red cornflowers, Azerbaijani reagan, Uzbek district, Armenian rean. It has analogues in the wild.
Basil is a heat-loving culture that is grown from seedlings. Dry seeds are sown in late March - early April in greenhouses or boxes to a depth of 0.5-1.0 cm, the distance between the grooves is 5-7 cm. Under normal conditions, seedlings appear on the 10-12th day. Seedling care is moderate watering. Water for irrigation should always have a temperature of at least 30 ° C.
In open ground, seedlings are transplanted only in the second half of May, so that night frosts could not damage the plants. A fertile bed is assigned for planting in open ground: basil loves fertilized, loose soil, rich in nutrients. 3-4 kg of humus, peat or compost, as well as 500 g of the finished nutrient-soil mixture per 1 sq.m. are added to the basil culture. On insufficiently fertile, poorly cultivated soils, it is additionally recommended to introduce organic fertilizers (one bucket per 1 sq. M).
50-day seedlings are planted in an ordinary way with a distance between rows of 50 cm, in a row between plants - 20-30 cm. The basil transplant is easy to transplant, it roots well and quickly.
You can sow basil seeds directly into the open ground, but not earlier than June 10. Grooves are recommended to be shed with a growth stimulant solution.
Growing and caring for basil
Proper care for basil is moderate watering. During frosts, basil should be covered with a film, otherwise the plant will die. After germination, basil is thinned, leaving about 10 plants per 1 m2.
Basil is demanding on useful substances. During the summer, the plant is fed with organic and mineral fertilizers. In mid-June they give the first top dressing. The second top dressing is carried out in July. Flowering begins in early August. In this phase, the largest amount of aromatic and other beneficial substances accumulates in the basil. In order to extend the life of the plant, the bush is dug up with a lump of earth and planted in boxes that can be put on the windowsill. Basil leaves grow during the winter and can be eaten.
Propagated by seeds. In the southern regions of the country are grown by sowing seeds in the ground and seedlings. In the central zone for seed purposes, seedlings are used, to obtain greenery, the seeds are sown in the ground.
Well-drained, loamy and loamy soils carefully seasoned with organic fertilizers are taken under fragrant basil. Immediately after harvesting the predecessor, the field is peeled, the main plowing is carried out to a depth of 25-27 cm. Mineral and organic fertilizers are applied under it. In spring, the soil is harrowed to preserve moisture and one or two cultivations with harrowing are done. Before sowing the field roll.
Varieties of basil
Variety "Anise flavor": An annual gingerbread culture. The plant is semi-spreading, medium-sized, the stem is highly branched. The leaves and shoots are rich in essential oils with a pleasant, pronounced aroma of anise. The mass of one plant is 185-250 g. Fresh or dried greens are used as seasoning for various dishes, for flavoring confectionery, sauces and vegetables during canning. Height 40-60 cm.
Grade "Lemon Aroma": A rare variety of basil with a strong lemon smell. The plant is semi-spreading, well-leafy, weighing 210-240 g. Fresh and dried herbs are used as a spicy seasoning for meat and fish dishes, for flavoring various drinks, desserts and pastries, decorating mousses, puddings, jellies.
Variety "Clove aroma": Thanks to its strong spicy aroma, this basil variety will successfully replace the familiar and beloved cloves in marinades, pickles and sauces. It is widely used both in fresh and in dried form as a seasoning for meat and fish dishes. Plants are compact, up to 25 cm high, densely leafy, very decorative: ideal for growing in pots on balconies and windows.
Variety "Thai Queen": The most decorative of all the many varieties of basil. It has a classic aroma. Bright, contrasting, large inflorescences on neat dark green bushes bloom up to 8 weeks! The variety was awarded the Fleroselect Gold Medal for outstanding decorative qualities. Good for growing in borders, containers, flower beds. It can be cultivated year round as a pot culture. Fresh foliage is used throughout the growing season. Height is up to 50 cm.
Variety "Osmin": A variety of basil with compact plants of saturated bronze color, leaves have a classic look and aroma of basil. It is cultivated not only as aromatic, but also as an ornamental plant. It is used fresh and dried as a spicy seasoning in cooking and canning. Suitable for growing in pots.
Variety "Broadleaf": Variety with wide green leaves having a strong, pleasant aroma. Leaves and young shoots are collected before mass flowering begins. For the season you can spend 2-3 cuts. In fresh and dried form they are used as a seasoning when preserving vegetables. Annual plant.
Variety "Yerevan": An annual aromatic plant, light and thermophilic, rich in essential oils and carotene. The variety is precocious. After cutting grows after 25-30 days. The leaves are smooth, large, fleshy, saturated purple, odorous. The taste is very delicate. It is used as a spicy seasoning for salads and meat dishes, as well as for canning vegetables. It retains good aroma when frozen. It can be grown as a potted crop.
Collection and storage of basil
Basil can be harvested 2 times per season. At the first harvest, the leaves and shoots of the basil are cut before flowering, while leaves must be left on the bottom of the plant. Basil can also be harvested during flowering. They use basil both in fresh and in dried form.
Dry grass (stems, leaves, flowers) should be in the shade, avoiding direct sunlight, in a well-ventilated place, laying in a thin layer. A well-dried basil should retain its natural color, smell and taste. In this case, the stems should break well, leaves and flowers should be easily ground into powder.
In earthenware, porcelain or glassware with a hermetically sealed lid, dried basil can be stored for up to 3-4 years. It is undesirable to store in metal or plastic containers.
Basil retains its composition and aroma well when salted. To do this, shoots should be washed, dried, cut into slices up to 1 cm in size and folded, pouring salt, into sterilized glass jars.
Store salted basil in the refrigerator.
The benefits of basil
Medicinal properties of basil
Basil raises the general tone, stimulates digestion, stimulates appetite, and has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects. It is used for colds, flu, reduces the temperature, reduces the secretion of mucus from the sinuses, eliminates insomnia and nervous tension.
In folk medicine, basil is used for soothing baths; it is drunk in the form of a decoction for coughing, headache, and inflammation of the bladder.
The ancient Romans believed that the more a person uses basil, the more he will prosper and live longer.
Sacred basil, growing in India and some other parts of Asia, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for many years as a means to restore strength and rejuvenation.
The aerial part of the plant contains up to 1.5% of essential oil, 6% of tannins, glycosides and acid saponin. A strong spicy smell is due to the presence in the leaves of the plant of an essential oil of complex composition, the content of which in various species varies from 0.2% to 1.5%. It includes components: methylchavinol, cineole, linalool, camphor, Ocimen, tannins, acid saponin. Essential oil has a bactericidal effect. In addition, basil contains sugar, carotene, volatile, vitamin C, B2, PP, rutin.
We wish you good health!