Well, maybe this blog hasn’t officially jumped the shark, as I had feared, but I was at a loss for words the week of August 9, and my little whiny post did garner some nice interaction. For instance, my good friend Beth at Dirty Laundry suggested I write about how to grow “perfect basil.” I had to giggle a little bit, as I have no formal training on the subject and I really haven’t done much book-reading on it either. What I have done, though, is successfully grow basil in my garden every year for nearly two decades. It’s true … whether a mild summer here in the northeast, or a hot one as we’ve had this year, I never want for basil in June, July, or August. And you shouldn’t either.
First you start out with a “sweet basil" plant. Something like this will work nicely:
Plant it in your garden — usually I do this around Mother’s Day — no special tools required. (Even though I have a proper trowel, I use a tablespoon to dig in the dirt. Some traditions die hard.) Make a hole in the garden big enough for the plant’s roots, and place the plant in the hole. Use the dug-up soil to fill in around the plant, and water it in well. Then continue to water it every other day or so for the first few weeks.
After that … just sit back and watch it grow. By the end of the season, you’ll have a plant that looks like this:
Two suggestions, if I may: 1) break off cuttings for use often; and 2) when the top of the plant starts to flower, simply trim off the flowers and discard them. (If there is some secret Italian recipe to deep-fry basil flowers, please enlighten me.)
I happen to know that Beth’s interest in this topic stems from her visit earlier this month, when she needed some fresh basil to make her Capellini with Fresh Tomato Sauce:
Though I gave her a hard time for using this:
… I have to admit, her recipe looks simply delish! And with tomatoes that good-looking straight out of her garden, I have no doubt that next year, her first attempt with basil in her own garden will be a growing success.
You, too, can make Beth’s capellini. Click here to read her post and view her recipe. Me? I must be off. I have a friend to bash over the head with several heads of fresh garlic.