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|Spring is a Great Time to Plant Basil|
|Written by Janine Warner|
Want to get off to a great start as a newbie gardener? Try basil. Not only is it easy to grow, it adds incredible flavor to so many dishes.
Basil plants are happy as long as they have plenty of sun and water (and a little organic fertilizer now and then). You can grow basil almost anywhere -- in backyards, community gardens and even small pots. I have a big garden, but I still like to keep the basil close to the kitchen in big wooden planters on the deck.
Starting as early as March in warmer climates, you can find basil at nurseries, farmer's markets, and most places that sell gardening supplies and plants.
I’ve been growing both the Italian basil with the big leaves and a variety of lemon basil that has small leaves but adds a huge amount of flavor and is especially yummy in chicken salad. I also love planting basil in different colors because it's so pretty to look at and adds both flavor and charm to your dishes.
I use basil in pasta, sandwiches, salads. Really anywhere you might put a piece of lettuce, you can add a little flavor with basil. Grow some extra basil this year and you can make fresh basil (and even freeze some for later). Check out Alan's Loosey Goosey Pesto recipe for great tips on making your own pesto.
Here’s a trick for keeping cut basil fresh in your kitchen
(full disclosure: this tip comes from Ann, who has a community garden and can't make the trek before every meal)
After you’ve cut the basil, put it in a bud vase keeping the stems wet. It will be thirsty so you’ll most likely be adding water to the vase daily (if not more often). If you do this, the basil can stay fresh for weeks and – if you want to make a new basil plant – just wait until roots grow, stick it in dirt and, voila, a new plant.