BASIL SWEET GENOVESE (O. basilicum) is my favorite basil. It is the classic heirloom culinary basil prized for its spicy flavor and wonderful aroma. Fragrant plants grow 18-24" and if kept pinched back (i.e., don't let flowers form as shown) it will give you a very long season of production. I preserve by chopping and freezing in ice cube trays filled with good olive oil. Then removing the cubes and putting in freezer bags. When I need a touch of summer in my cooking, I pop one or two of them into whatever dish I'm cooking and its just as if I came in from the garden! Also makes a wonderful after-dinner tea. Annual. 100 seeds.
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. 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!