Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Genovese Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

'Genovese' is the Italian strain regarded as the best for pesto. It has large dark green leaves, each leaf up to 2" long. It grows to 18-24" and has a tall and uniform habit. Bushy plant with ovate, glossy, bright green leaves often with a toothed edge to 2" long. It produce white flowers. The Basil Genovese Italian, 'Ocimum basilicum', is widely grown in Italy. Genovese basil has a strong basil flavor and aroma and is a favorite for pesto. There is nothing like the smell of basil. Basil is the smell of summer. Genovese basil will not disappoint the basil lover. It has a particularly strong fragrance and flavor making it excellent for almost any basil dish.

How to grow
Basil represents the essence of the summer garden. It is not hard to grow from seed, which germinates readily at temperatures between 75-85 degrees. Contrary to most cultivation information on basil, it does not mind slightly acid soil or partial shade. As a matter of fact, it will do best in an area protected from the wind and scorching midday sun. It likes rich, well-drained soil and will grow best in soil enhanced with well-composted manure. It hates cold and should be planted out only when night temperatures reach 50 to 55 degrees. If you practice companion planting, plant basil near tomatoes and peppers to enhance their growth.

Pinch it back early and often to encourage bushiness. Do not let it flower unless you want to let it set seed as this destroys the flavor and shortens the lifespan of the plant.

It is one of the most popular basils for culinary use, particularly for use in pesto, the traditional genoese sauce.

Genovese basil (in ligurian language baxaicò or baxeicò) has also played a role in many cultures. In Italy, it is considered a sign of love. Women who are ready to receive a suitor might put out a pot of basil as a sign of their willingness. In France, it is called herbe royale referring to the relation of its name with the greek "Basileos" (= King). It is widely mentioned in literature, such as in Boccaccio's Decameron.

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