I LOVE Basil. I love the smell of basil. I love tomato, cheese & basil sandwiches. I love basil in any kind of pasta dish. I love basil pesto. I love basil in salads. So, this year I decided that I am going to grow as many types of Basil that I can find seeds for. I am hoping to pick a few favourites that grow well in my garden & then grow a LARGE quantity next year (: I managed to trade & buy about a dozen varieties of seed & ended up with Anise, Blue Spice, Cardinal, Cinnamon/Cinnamonette(Czech), Holy, Lettuce Leaf, Lime, Mrs.Burns Lemon, Opal, Purple Ruffles, Red Rubin, Serrata & Siam Queen. I have sown them in 2 bunches (not much room left in my little greenhouse). Here are the first seedlings….
LIME BASIL Basil is easy to grow from seed. All that you have to do is fill a container with a soiless medium and keep it warm & damp until the seeds sprout. I used to have a problem with damping off (the tiny seedlings rotting before they could get growing). Now I spray the seeds/seedlings with a weak Chamomile tea solution. Chamomile is a natural anti-fungal. I haven’t lost a seedling since… My Lime basil seedling have thick leaves. The scent isn’t very strong yet, but I have grown it before & I always think that it smells stronger as the season progresses. It is tasty, just a slight hint of lime. I have seen it recommended for a lot of fish recipes, but haven’t tried it yet.
MRS. BURNS LEMON I have grown Lemon Basil before – but never this particular cultivar. It is supposed to be the strongest scented of the Lemon basils. Honestly, the scent (so far) is very weak. I am hoping that it is due to my current watering schedule. The basil seedlings are all still in the greenhouse. It is SO ridiculously hot in there that I keep them very damp. I wonder if the scent could be diluted – sort of like if you want a very strongly “tomatoey” tomato don’t water at all for a few days before picking it. Hopefully some water stressing will help because the slight aromas of Lime & Lemon are beautiful.
DARK OPAL was developed in the 50’s at the University of Connecticut (thank you Wikipedia). Mine isn’t as dark as Red Rubin. There are hints of green and a few of the seedlings came up plain green. It is definitely more of a uniform colour than Purple Ruffles. The taste is fairly strong and the seedlings seem sturdy. It is very pretty – but I think that I like the Red Rubin better for taste & looks so far. The purple in basils is from anthocyanins, the same thing that tomato breeders are working with to create “blue” tomatoes! I think that I am going to try working with basil crosses next year. I am just hoping to save seed from all of the favourites this year!
RED RUBIN ist the darkest and most uniform of my purple basils so far. It is an ‘improved’ version of Dark Opal, so that explains the darkness & uniformity when the two are compared . Red Rubin definitely has the strongest scent. I love the taste. It is thick & juicy & strong. A good “basilly” bite. The leaves are thicker than the other purple varieties. I am partial to the taste of the green basil, but the purples are very ornamental. I think that I will end up choosing the best looking of the purples to grow again next year. I may use all of them for flowerpots on my outdoor tables. I love basil…
PURPLE RUFFLES I think that this is the prettiest of my basils. I love the mottled purple & green leaves. This is the fastest growing variety & I have already used it in several dishes. It has been excellent in cooked dishes, especially my bruschetta. The scent is good – 3rd strongest behind Red Rubin & Serrata. I think that this is a must grow again because it looks beautiful in a container. It may end up as flower planter greenery next year! Bonus, culinary use. Basil is like mint, keep cutting & pinching to produce bushier plants.
SERRATA This is the clear favourite so far. It is bushy. 100% germination. The strongest basil scent out of all of the plants. It is a nice bright green, but what is unique about it is the beautiful crinkled leaves. It is a bit like a savoy cabbage. I LOVE it! Only a month into growing & I know that I will be growing this one every year. I would like to try to cross it with the purples & see if I can grow out a ruffled purple. Maybe next year – I have enough basils to take care of this year! It is bushy & strong. I am going to have to take 1/2 the seedlings out of this planter & repot them. I wasn’t expecting the leaves to be so large & full. There is a closeup of the Serrata leaves at the top of the page.
I will post the next batch of seedlings as soon as they are big enough to taste test (: