Feature Story XpBonaire islandLife
Do you know the feeling, when you walk through the supermarket and pick up a pack of herbs for +/- $2, often of questionable quality, and then put them back with a satisfied smile? You just go home and cut the herbs. In a minute, you have the “freshest”, organic and aromatic herbs from your own (pot) garden with a great side effect: you are saving money!
Hot Summer Heat
We are at the hottest time of the year. September to mid-November can be really hard on humans, animals and plants alike. Even though we don’t have real seasons on the island, this time of year can be understood as the winter time where the soil and plants are resting. This is the hardest time to start new plants since the heat sets most plants in survival mode and they will not bear fruit nor develop fast.
To continue the fun, it is best is to focus on the plants that thrive in our tropical heat, love full sun exposure and are not easily prone to pests. One of those is the basil plant.
There are many species and hybrids of the basil plant, but the most common and favored one is the sweet basil, also known as large leaf basil or Italian basil.
Root – start a plant
Select a healthy looking cutting from your supermarket basil with more than three leaf branches. Make a new angled cut with a sharp knife, remove the lowest leaves and put it in a glass of water in your kitchen. Within a week you can see root development.
Replant in some pot soil and place outdoors. Start placing it in a shaded place to let the plant adjust to sunlight slowly. After about three days you can relocate the plant to a sunny location. Basil even thrives in full sun exposure. Water well!
Make sure that you regularly harvest the basil and not let any flower buds develop. Whenever you trim the basil, cut just above a double leaved branch and it will develop two new branches again and will make your basil plant full and bushy.
When you let the basil plant bloom and flower, it will stop growing and will focus on seed production which will result in smaller and bitter tasting leaves, but seeds for possible future basil plants.
In our climate, the sweet basil will try to develop seeds as fast as possible. Trimming and watering is the priority to maintain a delicious herb plant.
Basil needs a lot of water. Make sure to water them at least every other day when growing them in pots.
You can grow new basil from seeds or from cuttings.
When you see your basil plant develop a woody stem, it is time to start a new plant so you have a continuous production of fresh basil.
Cuttings are easy and skip the germination process. Cut some branches like you did earlier from your supermarket basil and start all over again.
When you are an herb lover, it’s easy to calculate your savings on basil alone.
Just think about the caprese, pasta, pesto or Thai food that you can prepare with plenty of your own fresh basil.
Basil provides some macronutrients, such as calcium and vitamin K, as well as a range of antioxidants. Allegedly, basil’s health benefits are plenty:
- Reducing oxidative stress
- Supporting liver health
- Fighting cancer
- Protecting against skin aging
- Reducing high blood sugar
- Supporting cardiovascular health
- Boosting mental health
- Reducing inflammation and swelling
- Combatting infection