BASIL

Description

Basil belongs to the Labiate family and is called Ocimum Basilicum by its botanical name. It is an annual, herbaceous plant with erect, branched stalks that grow up to 50 cm tall, with leaves of different shapes and sizes depending on the variety (in some types large as well as very small in others). The colour varies from deep green to red and there are varieties with variegated leaves. This inflorescence is a spike which forms on the vegetative apex and brings many flowers in white, blue, or pink. Basil is an aromatic plant probably of Indian origin, and was already known by the Egyptians and the Greeks. Basil contains essential oils to which are attributed analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. In cuisine, it has become the symbol of Ligurian cuisine as the main ingredient of "pesto" as well as Campanian cuisine, added to spaghetti with tomato.

Cultivation

Basil can be grown both in pots as well as in the ground. In the case of plantation in container, the soil must comprise of 80% organic substance and 20% inert material, such as perlite or expanded clay, so as to enable a good drainage of the ground. The exposure must still be in full sun or partial shade. If the light is not enough, the leaves turn yellow and the stem lengthens disproportionately (spinning). The lack of light also decreases the aroma of the leaves. Also important is the fertilization, to be done using soluble fertilizers placed once a week in the irrigation water. An important practice to keep the plant in vegetation is topping, with elimination of the flower spikes as soon as they appear. After eliminating the inflorescence, plants continue to emit branches and leaves throughout the season.