Basil is a herb that is simple to plant, easy to maintain and even easier to harvest. Different varieties of basil produce different basil flavours. Some are stronger tasting and more aromatic than others. Some varieties have a hint of cinnamon, licorice or citrus flavour. Basil is one of the most popular and sought-after herbs today.
Basil plants vary in size from 8 inches to 24 inches tall. Growing Basil can easily be done in a traditional vegetable garden or in containers. Basil plants need at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day. They thrive when air temperatures are around 85 degrees F.
Basil local market mainly includes spice shops and supermarkets and it is
also being exported to the following countries:
- Sultanate of Oman
- Basil Sweet (Ocimum basilicum) both Green and ‘Dark Opal’ basil grows up to 18 inches and plant spacing is 12 inches.
- ‘Dark Opal’ has beautiful deep red foliage and lovely pink flowers and is excellent to use along a walk or as a solid bed for decoration in the garden.
- Basil is very good to use to flavour tomato juice and tomato pastes
- More than 150 Basil verities are grown worldwide. The plant is thought to be native to India and is very popular in Mediterranean cooking
Growing of Basil
- Basil is an annual plant that it will grow for one growing season and then die off. If one wants to keep producing Basil year after year, one needs to plant more every year.
- Growing Basil is very cost effective depending on the variety and growing conditions.
- How one intends to use Basil will determine which varieties to plant. Some varieties are especially tender with a mild flavour. These varieties are best used fresh or in making pesto. Other varieties have a slightly tougher texture and more pronounced taste and aroma. It’s easy to grow when it gets what it needs plenty of sunlight, warmth, regular food and water, and pruning to keep it productive
Harvesting and Preserving Basil
Basil can be harvested cleaned and frozen and stored until needed.
Alternatively space cut Basil branches on a screen, and dehydrate in a dark, dry, warm place. Drying this way takes a week or two, depending on the
Speed up the process with a dehydrator. The Basil is dry when leaves are easily crumbled. Remove dry leaves from the stems. Store them either whole or crumbled in an airtight jar. Keep the jars in a dark, cool place, away from the stove.
Uses for Basil through the Ages
- It has been used in wedding rites and lovers’ bowers as well as on the funeral pyre.
- Basil was used to relieve mental fatigue as well as the romantic Victorian “vapours”; it was recommended for mosquito, scorpion and snake bites. As recently as the early 20th century, camphor Basil was grown in volume and distilled for camphorated oil, an important medicinal during both world wars.
- The abundant essential oils of Basil explode with a vivid, stimulating Perfume. Some people have considered it an aphrodisiac. Aromatherapists today use it for massage and scented baths also an antidepressant, antispasmodic, tonic, stimulant, nervine and carminative.
- Basil can be used fresh to make a variety of sauces or pesto or as flavouring in teas. It can easily be dried and used to season almost any variety of meat, poultry, fish or vegetables.
- Nothing beats the sweet aroma from a fresh basil plant growing in your garden or on a deck or patio.
- They can be used for drying and seasoning a wide variety of food or making potpourri. Basil and tomatoes are an excellent flavour combination. Basil can also be used in a wide variety of other recipes
Basil Varieties to Grow
- Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). This familiar basil is great for pesto and preserving. It’s attractive in pots, but grows vigorously and needs repotting often. Numerous cultivars with different flavours are available.
- Cinnamon basil (O. basilicum ‘Cinnamon’). Delicious in desserts and other sweet dishes try this basil with rhubarb.
- Lettuce-leaf basil (O. basilicum ‘Crispum’). This large variety of basil is excellent in salads and for wrapping finger foods. Seedlings are prone to damping off.
- French fine-leaf basil (O. basilicum ‘Minimum’). This variety makes a great potted plant and a delicious garnish. Favoured by the cooks of southern France, this is one of the hardier Basils and can tolerate temperatures four to six degrees lower than other cultivars.
- Spicy globe basil (O. basilicum ‘Spicy Globe’). This variety of bush basil has a soft flavour and is quite variable when grown from seed and its compactness makes it suitable for low borders and it can be pruned into a ball. It’s also good as a container plant.
- Camphor basil (O. kilimandscharicum).With its strong camphor scent, this purple Basil is often used medicinally in herbal moth repellents, as its oil is reputedly antifungal. Camphor basil can grow 5 feet high.
- Holy basil (O. sanctum). As the sacred Basil of Hindus and Muslims, it is used in religious ceremonies known as tulsi; this Basil is sweeter than sweet Basil and has a pronounced clove scent. It can be used in fruit dishes, jellies and breads, as well as potpourris and sachets and its growth is open and lanky.
- Hoary basil (O. americanum). This basil’s sweet citrus flavour is great for potpourri as well as culinary uses with fish and fruits. Tastes more like lemon than Basil and be flavoured with mild vinegar. Very floriferous, with long flowering spikes.
Districts that grow Basil
- Luwero District
- Mpigi District
- Buikwe District
- Masaka District
- Lugazi District