PLANTING BASIL - Basil is a hot-weather annual that grows well in warm sunny gardens. It does not like cool areas so try to avoid shade and keep it protected against windy areas.

Fertilize with nitrogen and pinch back often. You can start in containers inside, planting seeds in a soil-less medium, around April 19 and it is safe to set out 1 week after last frost date.

Also start more seeds in containers in late August and bring inside a few weeks before a first frost to enjoy for many months.

Apply a weakened natural or organic fertilizer every 3 or 4 weeks. I make my own and alternate with a purchased organic fertilizer.

Basil is one of the most popular herbs and is best known in Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine.

It grows 2' - 3' tall and you can buy many different varieties. Sweet Basil, Dark Opal Basil, Holy Basil, Lemon Basil, Genovese Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, and Russian Basil to name the most popular. My favourite is Genovese and Sweet Basil and Dark Opal Basil.

Basil is used fresh in cooked recipes, and added at the last moment because cooking too long destroys its flavor. Basil is famous for basil pesto, used in salads, stir fries, and is amazing paired with any fresh or cooked tomato dish.

*Stir into softened whipped butter for corn on the cob.
*Toss with sauteed zucchini or squash.
*Add to meatloaf or meatball mixture.
*Alternate sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves for an appetizer platter.
*Top basil and lemon mix on white fish.
My favorite is sweet basil on a toasted tomato and avocado sandwich.

Basil is currently being studied due to its possible health benefits