May 23, 2017

One Sweet Basil

Columnar basil

Pineo Photo - Columnar basil

THE WEEKEND EDITION (So big it covers two days)

Most of the time, basil can be a fairly simple herb to grow from seed. It is indispensable in Italian cooking and can flavor a simple tomato like nothing else. A few years ago, Garden Maine found columnar basil at the now-retired Everlasting Farm in Bangor and we were hooked. This underused basil is also known as Greek columnar basil and grows on woody stems. It has never flowered in Garden Maine’s garden, which means it has to be propagated by cuttings. As you can see in the picture above, the plants on the left are columnar basil and they do grow in a column, usually at least 3 feet tall and forming a bush a good foot or more in diameter. And the more you prune off to eat, the bushier the column gets. It makes excellent pesto, and the leaves can be frozen in a plastic bag in the freezer for a few months to be tossed into cooked dishes such as soups and sauces. Rumor has it that this plant will be available at Forest’s Edge Garden in Hampden this year. For which we at Garden Maine are thankful.