Monday, June 16, 2008

Basil and Cilantro

Originally uploaded by Schilling 2
I realized today that a garden planting oversight has occurred in my backyard. Where are the cilantro and basil that are “must haves” in our garden, and the oregano, thyme, culinary sage and parsley?

Is there any herb that you have forgotten to plant? Not to worry, there is still time to plant these little essential workhorse herbs.

Many people plant a variety of basils. “Purple Ruffles” and “Dark Opal” have handsome purple ruffled leaves, with tiny pink flowers if allowed to go to seed. This basil’s flavor is more pungent than the more common green basil. We prefer the common basil for its tender leaves and delicious flavor, perfect for making pesto.

Lettuce leaf basil has a milder taste and is ideal for salads and pestos, with curly leaves the size of a small child’s hand.

An attractive way to grow basils is to put five or six assorted basils into a container 18 inches in diameter and 12 inches or more tall. In addition to the basils I mention above, add lemon basil, cinnamon basil and Thai basil for a colorful and edible display.

For my family, chicken soup needs a topping of freshly chopped cilantro added to each bowl, when it is served. Cilantro is a tasty addition to salads and tacos and sandwiches. Cilantro will go to seed in intensely hot weather and does best in spring and fall, but go ahead, be daring like me and plant some in June.

We can’t always garden ideally or scientifically. Gardening can be such a joy when we experiment.


Amrita said...

The herbs you mentioned are a must for us in India and e gro them too. Basil tea is excellent.

Can you tell me if goat droppings can be used as manure? I am not sure.I suppose you are any other person reading this might be able to help.

Terra Hangen said...

Hi Amrita,
I am so glad to hear from you in India. Basil tea is a new idea for me; I will try it.
Any readers know the answer to her question about goat droppings?
We buy manure here from horses and cows, and I have read that zoos sell elephant manure, so why not goats?
I hope to hear from a knowledgeable reader on this question.

Flower said...

Hi Terra,
I just read a book that said four basil plants are a must for every garden. I believe I've planted basil twice this year due to the bad weather we have had. Cilantro is in also! I love growing and using herbs!! They grow to be like friends!! said...

My basils are doing beautifully and I am already enjoying them. It wouldn't be summer with out it!

IRENE said...

Well, since basil is one of my favorite plants (I won my first litterary award in my early 20s, with a novel I signed as "Basil", if that says anything of me..), I think you may like to hear this. Traditionally new basil's life begins on September 14th, when the Greek Orthodox church celebrates the discovery of the Holy Cross by St. Helen and her son, the Emperor Constantine. So, pious people go to church, where the priest gives them a branch of basil. If you put it in a glass of water, you'll see after a few days the new roots coming out. That is when you plant it...then cut off the flowers for a while, to keep it from fading, then let it bloom and collect the seeds which you are going to plant in the Spring. Its perfume is guaranteed to bring you on the verge of intoxication!

Cathy Messecar said...

Terra, a friend suggested that I use basil leaves as chips for creamy dips. Not nearly so many calories as potato chips and very flavorful.

Oh, I'm slightly envious of all you gardeners.