By: Mary Ellen Ellis
Basilof any variety is a favorite herb of gardeners and chefs. One of the mostimportant reasons we love this herb is its delectable fragrance. The Frenchvariety, Marseille, is among the most fragrant of them all. So, if you love thesmell of basil, gather a little bit of Marseille basil information and getgrowing.
Marseille is just one of many varietiesof basil, and as the name suggests, it comes from France. It issometimes called the ‘queen of fragrance’ because what it is most known for isits strong aroma. It smells sweet and slightly of licorice, much like othertypes of basil, but the fragrance is much more potent.
Marseille basil is also notable for its small, compact size.It grows densely with large leaves but only to a height of about 10 inches (25cm.) and a width around 8 inches (20 cm.). The plant branches neatly without alot of need for trimming or shaping and fills out the space well.
As a culinary herb, Marseille basil can be used as any othervariety. It pairs well with tomatoes, pasta, mild cheeses, and vegetables. Youcan eat it fresh in a salad, use it in baked dishes, or dry the leaves to storeand use later. The flavor is a little sweeter than other varieties, but it isstill an acceptable variety for any recipe that calls for basil. In France,Marseille basil is traditionally used in pistou, a sauce similar to pesto.
When it comes to container-grown basil, Marseille is an obvious choice. The plant grows compact and dense. You’ll get an abundance of full-sized leaves even from a small plant in an indoor or outdoor container. Due to its compact nature and dense growth, this is also a good plant for edging and borders in the garden. Of course, it is also great in gardens or containers simply to add a delicious aroma to any space.
Wherever you grow it, Marseille basil care is pretty simple. You can start seeds indoors and they should germinate in five to ten days. With two sets of true leaves, they should be ready for transplanting to a bed or container.
Make sure they have plenty of direct sunlight and warmth. Ifin a container, be sure it drains, and of course, outdoor beds should have gooddrainage too. Water your plants regularly to keep the soil moist but notwaterlogged. Basil does best in rich soil, so add compost or fertilize ifneeded.
Marseille basil will grow densely without much attention, but to encourage shape and prevent flowering, pinch off growing tips.
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Aromatic in the ground as well as in sauces, basil is a common herb grown in windowsills, containers and garden beds across the globe. You can grow one or several of the many types of basil, depending on your location and what you plan to do with the harvest of aromatic leaves. The most common basil is 'Genovese basil' (Ocimum basilicum), which is often referred to as sweet basil.
The two names are interchangeable. Sweet or Genovese basil both grow in U. S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 10 and above as perennials. As an annual, it will last until the first frost before quickly dying off, or it can be planted after the last signs of spring frost.
Sweet Basil Group: These are the familiar sweet scented types.
Genovese Group: Classic large leaf from the Genoa area of Italy, the pesto capital of the world.
Bush Group: Smaller, rounded forms often with small, finer textured foliage.
Purple Group: Basils with dark purple to bronze foliage. They are often very decorative.
Other Basils: A selection of basils with distinctive flavors and aromas.
Basil is a sun-loving annual herb that is among the most popular in the world for flavoring food. Native to Asia, it was carried from India to Egypt to Greece in the ancient world, and remains a mainstay of cuisine in many cultures. In the garden, it is often grown alongside tomatoes, and is considered a guard plant protecting veggies and flowering plants from some predators.
Selecting which basil to grow is the most difficult part of gardening with this scrumptious herb! Most have green leaves and either pink or purple blooms, though some sport purple-toned foliage. We recommend that for growing indoors, you select dwarf varieties. There are many delectable choices:
Sweet Basil - Used in French, Italian, Greek, and other Mediterranean cuisines, these varieties are mildly flavored yet strongly aromatic, an irresistible combination! Nufar Hybrid is a Genovese type that resists fusarium wilt, making it one of the easiest to grow. Large Leaf Italian is among the most popular for fresh or dried use. And Pistou is a very compact French variety with a sweet, mild bite.
Spicy Basil - A mainstay of Oriental cuisine, these varieties pack a stronger, spicier bite than their sweet cousins. AAS winner Thai Siam Queen delivers zingy flavor on extra-large plants that produce very heavily, while unusual Cinnamon uniquely combines the sweet with the spicy!
Citrus Basil - Combining lemon or lime flavors with traditional basil flavor makes a superb addition to drinks and desserts! One of our favorites is Mrs. Burns' Lemon, an heirloom variety from New Mexico with lip-puckering intensity. Lime is indispensable for Thai cuisine, and its dwarf habit makes it a must-have in the indoor kitchen garden.
Can't decide where to begin? We recommend that you save money with our sampler platter -- the Culinary Collection! You'll get a packet each of 4 of our very best: one Genovese, one French, one lemon, and one purple-leaf!
When to Start Basil Seeds
To grow basil indoors, sow the seeds at any time of year. To grow in the garden, begin seeds indoors 6 to 8 weeks before anticipated transplant date. Transplant the seedlings or sow seeds directly into the soil only when daytime temperatures are in the 70's and nighttime temps remain above 50°F.
Drop one seed into each bio sponge of your Bio Dome, or sow on top of a seed flat and lightly cover with vermiculite. Germination occurs in 5 to 15 days at any temperature between 65 and 85°F. Transplant the seedlings anytime after they have 2 sets of true leaves.
Growing Tips for Basil Plants
Pests and Problems to Watch For
Outdoors, slugs and beetles can nibble the leaves. Using a sharp mulch will discourage their approach.
Indoors, aphids can become a problem. Check the undersides of new leaves very carefully for signs of these tiny white creatures, and spray leaves on both sides to keep them clean.