Sweet basil is a must have in my garden. I've read that there are over 50 varieties of basil. I've also tried growing spicy basil and cinnamon basil this year, but it is my sweet basil that I go to consistently.
Basil needs to be planted in a warm sunny spot that is protected from wind. We get a lot of wind in New Mexico and I've found the best place for met to plant it is against my west fence. Our wind comes from the west so the fence gives it the protection it needs. Many people have success growing it indoors, but I must confess that I have not. It grows much better for me when I plant it outside. Basil can be grown from seed, but I find it easier to transplant an established plant from the store.
Pick it when the leaves are young and cut off the tops as the flowers open.
Basil is the perfect herb to go in your tomato sauces and in most all Italian cooking. I personally add it to many salads. In the summer we eat a white bean salad with onions and balsamic vinaigrette. I cut up some basil leaves to add to it for a nice flavor. Another salad we eat often in the summer is sliced tomatoes alternated with sliced fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Again we put balsamic vinaigrette over this. Yum!
Next year I don't think I'll plant the cinnamon or spicy basil and just stick with the sweet basil. It is what my family likes and is oh so good.
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