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Index->John's Corner->The Benefits of Growing Basil
Note This article is not intended as medical advice or as a replacement for a one-on-one relationship with a physician. It is merely a source of information to those interested. If you understand, then read on...


The Benefits of Growing Basil

Would you like to save money? Money doesn't grow on trees, but food can grow just about anywhere. And that is what counts! I think more people should try and grow their own food. Economically relieving, ecologically responsible, and just plain fun—these words all describe gardening! So this article will narrow its focus on why you stand to benefit from growing Basil: the delicious versatile herb! If you want to learn how to save money on spices, even a little bit, then read on. We all can stand to learn from the marvels of nature, such as how the earth can provide for us even now!*

My Basil plant
This is my Basil plant. Or what's left of it, anyway. My plant is starting to slow down due to the cool weather, but it's been giving my lots of Basil leaves in the meantime. Date: Sunday October 13, 2013

How can you use Basil? Used in many parts of the world, Basil mostly refers to the species Ocimum Basilicum. An example is Lemon Basil, which has its namesake's flavor and aroma. In some cases, it is used in combination with other kinds of Basil.

Sweet Basil's specialty is of course Italian cooking. Lemon Basil is used in pesto, tea, and some chicken recipes. It is also used in Asian cusine to impart a lemon's sour flavor to a soup or broth. The aforementioned Sweet Basil is also used in Asian cusine. Sweet Basil is also famously used in pizzas.

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In light of such rich history, is there not ample reason to appreciate this semi-hardy annual? As if you needed another reason, right? Basil is delicious, has a long historic background to prove its usefulness, and has many potential uses. But there is yet another reason you might want to grow Basil:

Basil has potent medicinal value. With its strong antioxidant properties, its anti-viral effects, and its anti-microbial attributes, Basil makes an herb worthy of your kitchen; and maybe in some cases, your medicine cabinet. One of the best examples is the famous Indian herb. What am I talking about? I am talking about the sacredly esteemed Holy Basil!

Holy Basil's medicinal value has long been recorded throughout India's history. Belonging to ayurvedic medicine, Tulsi's main role was to serve as a religious symbol(an image) of native deities. It was also used as a medicinal herb and is well known for curing stress. Tulsi1 is classified as an apaptogen, meaning it works to bring balance to the endocrine system. It also apparently has anti-cancer properties, though some people claim nary a sufficient study. In spite of doubts, Tulsi continues to be used in Indian medicine today, as it was for hundreds of years. It can also used for treating acne, headaches, and many diseases. Holy Basil even earned its name from the belief that it posesses divine essence, so that should speak volumes of its medicinal value.

These are among just a few examples of how Basil, and by extension, the entire family of herbs, can be used for medicinal purposes. For the record, I am not suggesting any kind of change to how you deal will ailments. You will have to decide on such things yourself. But can we not agree that Basil has a place in your garden? It is more than just a kitchen spice, that is for sure!

Review questions for this paragraph:
  1. According to this section, what system of medicine does Holy Basil belong to?
  2. Where did this kind of medicine originate?
  3. Next, what is the primary benefit of Holy Basil?
  4. Finally, what is its other name?

Now that we've covered the reasons that you might grow Basil, how would we go about doing that? No matter what variety you are growing, Basil plants have more or less the same needs—that is, lots of heat and moderate watering. And Basil likes to grow in rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Grow your Basil plant after the last frost and through the summer. Basil plants also need full sun to partial shade. Water to dampen the top layer of the soil, then wait until it dries out again. It takes from 30 days to a couple of months for your plant to be ready for you to start taking leaves.2

Basil is really an easy plant to grow. Depending on the size of the seed, likely you will need to dig it into the soil around ΒΌ inch deep. However, you can also cut off a lengthy and healthy stem of the plant and root it in water. Alternatively, you can use a soiless mixture. Seedlings take around 3-4 weeks to become harvestable; the rooting stems? Just one or two. To harvest, just take one or a few leaves at a time. If you wish to top the plant and make it bushier, pinch off the top set of leaves from the terminal stem.

I have covered the basics here. You will need to conduct your own research keeping these points in mind about how Basil grows. Check out my sources and further reading sections if you want to know more.

FOOTNOTES:
  1. Tulsi is what Holy Basil is called in India.
  2. Tip: Sweet Basil takes around a week to germinate. Lemon Basil evidently takes closer to two

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Further Reading

If you want to know of five other Indian herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine, Check this site out! But read at your own risk—I do not give medical advice at all!