In the Kitchen
Basil is a must for anyone who likes food. Fresh leaves ripped up into pieces spread into any tomato sauce enhance it. In fact tomato and basil sauce is a brilliant light vegetarian accompaniment to pasta, especially if you add some fresh chopped green chilli. Since it is the main ingredient of pesto sauce this is another reason to grow it. Home made pesto is also tasty enough to accompany a pasta course or to make a light meal or lunch during the summer.
Seedlings in Pot
Growing from seed
Like many other herbs, once the weather is warmer in spring, I plant seeds in the conservatory in a 15cm pot of compost. While they are still small I pick them out, by using the pointed end of a plastic label, into small pots of compost and let them establish themselves. Finally when they look big enough to take care of themselves and frostís a thing of the memory, I plant them out onto the plot.
They are a bit fussy because they donít like too much water and they donít like too little. Outside they are best left alone unless there is a drought. They are great companions for asparagus as they discourage the asparagus beetle. Just as in the kitchen they are great with tomatoes, they also repel harmful insects and deter disease.
On the Window Sill
Inside or under Glass
In case disaster strikes outside I plant some singly into 15cm or 20cm pots for the window sill. Itís claimed that flies donít like the smell, they prefer things like decaying flesh and manure. Certainly a row of six plants in our conservatory seemed to keep them at bay. No flies on me!