A great, versatile herbs and one of the best used for cooking, Basil is as tasty in cooked dishes as it is in raw in pesto or bruschetta. There are a few different varieties of basil, all which add an extra element to your cooking, such as Lemon Basil, Cinnamon Basil and the most popular, Sweet Basil.
The one problem that the Irish climate has with growing basil is that it needs a good, steady amount of sunshine in order to grow. If this is not available, the basil plant is best grown indoors, allowing you to foster the plant until it is possible to move it outdoors if the Irish summer permits it!
How to Plant
Basil seeds are best planted in April into a small pot. Lightly cover the seeds with compost and put in an area of your home with a steady supply of warmth. After 2-3 weeks, you will see the growth of the seedlings, which is the perfect time to stand the pot in a dish of water to ensure the plants get moisture, while keeping them warm and in a light and bright area. Once your plant has more than 5 leaves on it, you can now transfer it to it’s future home, for example on a balcony or step outside or if you feel there is too much frost, the plant can be kept indoors in a sunny part of your home.
It is best to only pick off the leaves of the Basil plant, leaving the stem intact, which will ensure further growth. Unlike Rosemary, it is best to remove any flowers that appear on the Basil plant as these often take all the energy and leave the leafs lifeless.
Basil is a great herb year round that adds a depth of flavour to lots of cooking. In order to ensure you have supplies year round, you can always freeze the basil leaves to be used during the winter months, when there is less abundance of leaves. In addition, basil makes a great accompaniment to cocktails or freshly ground in a homemade pesto.