BASIL

BASIL

Basil belongs to the Labiate family and is called Ocimum basilicum by its botanical name. It is an annual, herbaceous plant with an erect, branched stem that can reach up to 50 cm. in height, with leaves of different shapes and sizes depending on the variety (large and bullous in some types to very small in others). The colour varies from deep green to red and there are varieties with variegated leaves. The inflorescence is a spike that forms on the vegetative apex and brings many flowers in white, blue, or pink. During home-grown cultivation, one should trim the spikes from their onset since the plant, if it is in bloom, tends to interrupt the development of vegetation. Basil is an aromatic plant probably of Indian origin, and was already known by the Egyptians and Greeks. Over the course of the millennia, it has been linked not only to traditional pharmacopoeia, but even to myths and rather curious beliefs. In Egypt, it was considered a good omen. Instead, Plinius indicates that the plant is capable of generating torpor and insanity; during the Middle Ages, it is shown instead as a symbol of hate and of Satan; Jewish folklore indicates its usefulness in helping one bear the fast; and finally, an African legend attributes it the ability to protect one against scorpions.
In reality, basil contains essential oils to which traditional herbalists attribute analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. In the kitchen, it has become the symbol of Ligurian cuisine as the main ingredient of "pesto" and Campanian cuisine, combined with spaghetti and tomato.

CULTIVATION

Basil is a very demanding plant in terms of temperature and, after germination, which happens around 15°C, its proper growth depends on living in temperatures that should not go lower than 18-20 °C both day and night. Although it grows well in full sun, it benefits from part shade. Taking account of its thermal requirements, basil plants should be transplanted no earlier than April or May. Fertilization must consider a ratio of removal of the main elements of 1: 0.5: 1.5. An organic fertilizer of 5-8 kg of compost per square meter accompanied by 50g / sqm of potassium sulfate and just as much ammonium sulfate or guano is very useful. During cultivation, regular irrigation is required. In addition, the plant must be trimmed in order to stop the formation of the floral spike that blocks its development.

ADVERSITIES

Basil is susceptible to attack by root diseases such as Fusarium, Rhizoctonia, and Pithyum, so it is preferable to plant it in soils where there is no risk of waterlogging and, if possible, to transplant it on the top of the soil, placed in prose. Given its short cycle and the continued use of the leaves, it is inadvisable to proceed with treatments.