Herbs: Basil – Albahaca in Spanish
Basil grows to about two feet tall and is a great addition to any garden. Many varieties are available, from lemon to dark and purple. Each has its own special flavor.
Plants are usually available in any nursery, but it is also very easy to grow from seeds. Seeds are usually available in the Home Depot in Playa.
Here in the Yucatan, just plant the seeds, water, and they will germinate in 7-14 days. If you get plants from the nursery for instant use, just stick in the ground in a sunny location and keep moist. The plant wants full sun but can tolerate some shade, especially in the very hot part of the day. It does better when the young seedlings are first in part shade in the heat of the summer.
Water regularly and fertilize and compost. Pinch off the flowers to keep the plant full and bushy. Flowers are edible, but if left on they encourage the plant to become tall and woody and it will stop growing new leaves. Basil grows well in pots as well as in the soil.
Basil is a wonderful seasoning for salads and for Asian and Mediterranean dishes. Herbal waters made with Basil and lemon are cooling and are a mild diuretic. Basil in general helps with stomach cramps, gas, and acts as an aid to the immune system. It also helps ward off parasites.