MRS BURNS' LEMON BASIL (O. americanum) is an exquisite American heirloom herb that is actually better than some of the more recent lemon basil cultivars. The leaves are larger, the true lemony fragrance and taste more pronounced and not at all medicinal. From a culinary standpoint, this basil has an affinity for fish and also desserts (yes!). Let it spark your creative genius in the kitchen. It is a sturdier and more vigorous plant which loves the hot dry summers here in North Carolina. Grows 18" - 24" high, with a neat habit, white flowers which you should pinch off throughout the growing season so that it keeps producing. Also makes a wonderful after-dinner tea and is a perfect choice for homemade soaps, potpourris and fragrances. Annual. 50 seeds.
CULINARY: Here are just three suggestions for using this wonderful basil: As a green sauce for any fish, but especially salmon. Chopped fine and sprinkled over pears before poaching in fine white wine. Incorporated into a Hollandaise sauce over Eggs Benedict. Enjoy!
MEDICINAL PROPERTIES: There is good reason that basil is combined in a lot of hefty Italian dishes! It aids digestion and also is a mild sedative. Basil contains six different compounds that reduce blood pressure and ease the symptoms of emphysema and bronchitis. It is also an effective bug repellant. I like to grow pots on my deck as well as all over my garden!
GROWING TIPS: Basils like warm weather, so don't set your starts out too early, and be sure to harden them off well before transplanting. OR, wait until weather is quite established and direct sow. Here in Zone 7B, I get many of certain varieties such as lemon basil volunteering each spring, so some can reseed in warmer climes. Set aside a corner of your garden for your perennial herb bed. But annuals like basil are also wonderful planted on the ends of your rows of tomatoes and eggplant. Don't plant too close as basil needs air and light. When your plants are 6" high, pinch out the central stem. It will begin the branching process that you will need to repeat with every branch as it develops. In this way you will keep the plant from going to seed and also produce a large bushy healthy specimen. Be sure to start some in pots toward the end of summer to bring in and put under grow lights for your winter kitchen!