Basil is a small annual shrub, which is part of the large Lamiaceae family to which, among other plants, mint also belongs.
In any case, basil is an aromatic plant that has been cultivated for several centuries within the Mediterranean area and in Asia, a country from which the cultivation of this particular plant has spread all over the world.
Basil is characterized by developing herbaceous shrubs, which reach up to 45 centimeters in height, with extremely thin stems, which often have large aromatic, thin and very delicate leaves.
During the summer season, at the apex of the stems we find small spikes of white flowers, to which seeds can succeed.
Following the flowering period, in most cases, the basil plant stops producing new shoots and the stems have a tendency to lignify.
In all those places that have a temperate winter climate, basil is characterized by growing in particularly small woody shrubs, even if it happens more easily that the young leaves are more aromatic and, for this reason, it is better to constantly grow new plants.
The basil plant has the particular characteristic of suffering from minimum temperatures that drop below ten degrees centigrade.
This explains why they must be grown in an open place only during the spring and summer season.
From February or March it can be sown in seedbeds, which are recommended to be kept at a temperature of at least twenty degrees centigrade.
By the time the spring season arrives, the seedlings that are already developed must be placed outdoors.
If desired, there is also the possibility of sowing basil directly at home, even if the time taken will be about 20-30 days, before being able to harvest the first leaves.
The basil plant should be grown in pots or in the ground, in a sunny place, with rich, fresh and well-drained soil.
To ensure this plant is guaranteed at least a few hours a day of sunshine that it absolutely needs, it is important to place it in sunny places.
In any case, it is a plant that cannot stand drought and, for this reason, it is always better to water it when the soil is completely dry, while avoiding excesses of any kind.
To take advantage of the foliage of the same plant throughout the summer season, the advice is to periodically eliminate the flower buds, to ensure that the plant, after flowering, can block the production of new shoots.
Basil has an extremely intense and volatile essential oil inside its leaves, which disperses extremely quickly in the air when the leaves are dried.
For this reason, in most cases, fresh basil leaves are used, collecting them when there is such need in the kitchen.
There is the possibility of obtaining basil seedlings throughout the year, taking extreme care to periodically resow the plant and to place pots in the kitchen when the first cold weather approaches: the ideal position is represented by a particularly bright and not too cold.
Otherwise, there is also the possibility, at the end of the season, to cut each basil plant at the base, and then immediately insert the leaves in the freezer or even in oil.
The multiplication of the basil plant occurs by seed and must be carried out during the period between March and April, after having distributed the seeds in parallel rows inside a soil for seeds.
To make sure they are buried completely evenly, there is the possibility of pressing them slightly under the soil, also using a flat piece of wood.
Small seeds are the ones that don't need to be buried deep.
The tray inside which the seeds are located must be kept in the shade, at a temperature around twenty degrees centigrade and constantly humid until the moment in which germination takes place.
The basil plant can be affected by different diseases, while chemical treatments are essentially not recommended.
The advice, however, is to renew the basil plants, since they are very little.
The cause of the aroma of basil leaves is strictly connected to the presence of the essential oil, which is made up of eugenol, estragol, linalool, cineol, and many other components which, based on their quantity, determine the more or less intense aroma. of the plant itself.
Basil is used fresh especially for the preparation of sauces and vegetables, while the leaves can be effective in particular when they are used raw and must be added to sauces or cooked products only when the dish is brought to the table.