Don't you just hate it when you paid way too much for herbs at the grocery store, only to use them on one recipe before wasting the leftovers? Here's some food for thought; Whatever herb you need, it's usually cheaper to buy the whole plant at a garden center than it is to buy some from the produce aisle. You know what's even cheaper? Rooting cuttings! I've teamed up with Stevie Rose of Garden Therapy to show you how to make the most of store bought herbs, specifically sweet basil.
Much like my Beach'n Terrarium tutorial, this one was made specifically to be shared on the coolest DIY sharing network around, Pinterest. Stevie did the demo and took photos while I illustrated and designed a tutorial. You can start your own rosemary, sage and other herbs this way, but we've decided to go with basil since it can be grown almost anywhere during the hot months of summer.
Sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) is most often used as the distinctive flavor in Italian dishes, but many other cuisines use other species of basil to match their own tastes. I'm a big fan of Thai basil and holy basil personally, but they're rather hard to come by. (I suppose I could start some of those from cuttings too!)
Besides their star status in Italian dishes, sweet basil is an essential ingredient in pesto, can be mixed into salads for a spicy kick, and is even used in soaps and perfumes for it's savory aroma. According to the Smithsonian Handbook of Herbs, sweet basil is far more than a culinary herb. The pungent fragrance repels mosquitoes, ringworms and garden pests, and a recent study concluded that the oils of basil are toxic to mosquitoes. Feeling sick? Inhaling the aroma of basil has been proven to clear sinuses and stimulate the sense of smell.
Here's my favorite bit of basil trivia. In Italy, young ladies wore a sprig of basil on their waist or bosom to show their availability to suitors. Nowadays girls just show as much bosom as possible to show that they're single, and the basil is no longer necessary.
Enough history, how do you grow it? It's as easy as 1, 2, 3.
1. Cut off a small stem of basil and remove the lower leaves. This helps conserve the plant's energy and keeps it from drying out.
2. Place the stem in water. You can use a glass, vase or anything you have lying around, and you can root several stems together if you prefer. Place the stems in a well lit area out of direct sunlight to avoid sunburn.
3. Plant in fresh potting mix when roots have formed and keep the soil moist until established.Slowly move the plant outdoors or into a sunny windowsill for the best growth.
Experienced gardeners will tell you to buy some rooting hormone, lightly dust the cut end of the stem and root it directly in soil, and that works too! Personally I think it's a lot more fun to watch the roots grow and brighten up my dining room with a bit of fragrant greenery, but if you're having difficulties, try the rooting hormone method. Or email me with your questions.
For even more awesome DIY projects, head over to Stevie's GardenTherapy.ca. She's got it goin' on!