Annual with leafy stems and thin branchy roots. Flowers are two-lipped, 1/2″ long, lavender and grow in racemes at top of stems. Leaves are opposite, ovate with an entire margin. They are also 2-3 inches long, dark maroon-purple and shiny. Fruit are tiny, dark brown seeds.
HOW TO GROW
- Choose the kind of basil you wish to grow.Basil comes in many different varieties, each of which have a unique flavor and smell. Read up on different types of basil and pick out one – or several – that appeal to you, then order the seeds or buy them at a garden store.
- Start seed indoors four to six weeks before last frost.Basil needs warm air and sun to do well, so it’s often easiest to start the seeds indoors instead of risking that they’ll get damaged by frost.if you live in a hot climate, you can start the seeds outside instead.
- Prepare seed containers.Fill flats or individual seed containers with a mixture of equal parts perlite, vermiculite, and peat. Press the mixture slightly to eliminate air pockets. Dampen the mixture with water so it’s ready to provide the right environment for the basil seeds to germinate.
- Plant the seeds.Drop one to two seeds into each container. Cover them lightly with soil. Cover containers with clear plastic kitchen wrap, so they stay moist. Leave the containers in a sunny window. Twice daily, remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the containers with more water.
- Remove the plastic wrap when the sprouts emerge.When you see the first green tendrils push up through the soil, it’s time to remove the plastic wrap. Keep watering the sprouts twice daily, never letting the soil dry out. When the plants become a few inches tall and their leaves mature, it’s time to transplant them to a larger container.
- Make sure that the soil is moist. Basil plants like moisture. If you live in a hot area, use mulch around the basil plants (the mulch will help keep the soil moist).
- Make sure to pick the leaves regularly to encourage growth throughout the summer.
- After 6 weeks, pinch off the center shoot to prevent early flowering. If flowers do grow, just cut them off.
- If the weather is going to be cold, be sure to harvest your basil beforehand, as the cold weather will destroy your plants.
- Variety of bacterial and fungal leaf, stem, and root diseases
- Basil herb contains many polyphenolic flavonoids like orientin and vicenin. These compounds were tested for their possible anti-oxidant protection against radiation-induced lipid per-oxidation in mouse liver.
- Basil leaves compose of several health benefiting essential oils such as eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral, limonene and terpineol. These compounds are known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
- The herb is very low in calories and contain no cholesterol. Nonetheless, its is one of the finest sources of many essential nutrients, minerals, and vitamins that are required for optimum health.
- Basil herb contains exceptionally high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. These compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging and various disease processes.
- Zea-xanthin, a yellow flavonoid carotenoid compound, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea where it found to filter harmful UV rays from reaching the retina. Studies suggest that common herbs, fruits, and vegetables that are rich in zea-xanthin anti-oxidant help to protect from age-related macular disease (AMRD), especially in the elderly.
- 100 g of fresh herb basil leaves contain astoundingly 5275 mg or 175% of daily required doses of vitamin A. Vitamin A is known to have antioxidant properties and is essential for vision. It is also required for maintaining healthy mucusa and skin. Consumption of natural foods rich in vitamin-A has been found to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Vitamin K in basil is essential for production of clotting factors in the blood and plays a vital role in the bone strengthening and mineralization.
- Basil herb contains a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
- Basil leaves are an excellent source of iron. It fresh leaves carry 3.17 mg/100 g (about 26% of RDA) of iron. Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, is one of the chief determinants of oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.