Basil: How To Grow More Than You Can Eat
Basil is a wonderful plant to have and to propagate. A single basil plant can multiply a lot in a short time. This will give you an abundant supply to make wonderful recipes such as pesto. You will also have enough basil left to use for natural remedies to help in the treatment of some conditions. Having basil at your home provides a convenient approach to living a healthy life.
There are several varieties of basil, but the most common of them all is sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum). When recipes don’t specify the type of basil you need, it probably refers to sweet basil. So, for this discussion, we will be using sweet basil for the entirety of this article.
Benefits of Basil for Health
- It helps reduce oxidative stress: Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between your body’s antioxidants and free radicals. This can lead to fatigue, memory loss, joint pain, and other signs of aging. Since basil contains antioxidants like beta-carotene and anthocyanins, it lessens the effect of oxidative stress.
- Improves blood sugar levels: Sweet basil, in particular, contains extract ethanol which helps reduce blood sugar levels. Thus, it may help diabetic patients in regulating their blood sugar levels.
- Boosts mental health: Sweet basil contains properties that help in alleviating stress and anxiety. It further helps people with depression and increases their ability to logically thinking and reasoning. Moreover, basil improves memory by preventing memory loss.
- Decreases inflammation and swelling: Oxidative stress may cause inflammation and swelling often found in diseases like arthritis, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Fortunately, sweet basil has the properties that may help treat inflammation caused by oxidative stress in some diseases.
Why Should You Have Basil in Your House?
Basil has many more benefits than mentioned above. Hence, it is a great plant to have in your house. Some people may think of basil as an outdoor plant, but many actually grow basil indoors. Growing basil in your house is as easy as cultivating them in the garden.
- Basil keeps mosquitoes away: Aside from the health benefits that you can get from basil, the plant itself is a known mosquito repellent. Basil has a natural aroma that mosquitoes detest. You do not need to crush the leaves or do anything special. Just simply having a basil plant inside your house will do the trick. Having a plant near standing water, which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, can kill mosquito larvae to prevent them from multiplying.
- Maintains air cleanliness and freshness: Basil increases the oxygen supply within a room. The plant amazingly emits oxygen for 20 hours every day. It also takes in harmful gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide from the surroundings.
- Provides natural fragrance to the home: If you’ve ever come close to a basil plant, you’ll know how fragrant it is. The natural aroma of the plant gives freshness to the air to give your home a natural scent. Additionally, the special aroma of basil helps improve mood with its mood-boosting properties.
How To Grow a Lot of Basil?
Growing unlimited basil is very easy. You can propagate your own unlimited supply of basil from cuttings.
Things You Need
- Basil plant
- Scissors or shears
- Small pot with holes
- Potting compost
- Potting tray
Prepare the cuttings
Basil cuttings easily develop a healthy root system when placed in water. Get a good basil plant from a supermarket, and start cutting. Ideally, a good cutting requires four to six basil leaves on top.
Once you’ve picked the cutting, locate and cut just below the second node. A node is a point where a leaf or a twig attaches to the stem of the plant.
The nodes are where plants produce most roots. Hence, cutting from below it will allow for quick growth of roots. Remove any leaves attached to the two nodes.
Allow roots to grow
Prepare a mug/jar filled with ¾ water. Light may cause the roots to rot. So, ensure that you protect these baby roots from dying at all costs.
The cuttings thrive in a warm environment. They still need indirect sunlight for 2 weeks to grow the roots. You have to place them somewhere warm where the temperature is around 70°F.
Also, you need to change the water every week.
Roots start to appear
Approximately after two weeks, you’ll have a beautiful dark green color on the cutting. Roots also start to sprout for several inches long. Transfer the cuttings with roots in small pots with holes and potting compost. Since they are already planted in the soil, the plants can now be placed somewhere warm with direct sunlight.
However, if they are not growing as expected, you can create a makeshift greenhouse indoors by covering the plants with a clear bag. The potted plants may take a few days to get used to their new home as well. Soil is different from water, so they need to get accustomed to their new environment. You might notice them growing slowly for a while, but once they get used to it, they’ll grow at their usual rate.
Encourage growth and repeat cuttings
You can see wonderful growth of long stems after three weeks or so. You can start preparing new cuttings from this growth to make new plants by repeating the procedure from the start. But the cutting is somewhat different this time considering that you need to prune the new plant as well.
Basils tend to put in their effort on the top of the plant only. Hence, the lower part wouldn’t grow as much as the top one. You need to cut the cutting right on top of the third node. As explained earlier, the nodes are where the twigs and leaves attach. So cutting from just above this node will encourage the basil to grow into a bushier plant with the bottom leaves fully nourished as well.
Meanwhile, the cutting that you have recently cut needs further cutting just below the second node for the growth of roots. Once the cutting is ready, you can repeat the entire process again to get an unlimited supply of basil.
Place the pruned basil plants where they can get sun and warmth for 2-3 weeks. Water the plants twice a week. This whole process may take approximately 6 weeks or so. However, in those 6 weeks, you can already take off some leaves of the plants to use in your cooking and other basil needs.
Natural Remedies Using Basil
Now that you have an unlimited supply of basil, what will you use it for? Here are some of our natural remedies using basil.
Boil 1 cup of water and set aside to cool down for a minute. Add 2 tbsp of freshly chopped basil and steep for 5 minutes. Strain. Add raw honey, if desired.
The tea is a wonderful remedy for digestive issues such as indigestion and feelings of fullness. It also helps relieve sore throat. For sore throat, however, ditch the honey and let the tea cool down. Then, use it as a gargle.
Basil Steam Inhalation
A facial steam with basil may help relieve headaches. Boil 2 cups of water in a large pot, add 1 tbsp of dried basil leaves. Slowly and carefully lean over the pot at a safe distance. Cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes.
Topical application for stings and bites
Basil works well for stings and bites too. All you have to do is to chew a basil leaf or crush it to take out the extract.
Apply the chewed or crushed leaf on the bite to ease pain and remove the venom.
It’ll also help relieve itchiness if there is any.
Chew basil for migraine
Some people who are suffering from migraines said the leaves of the plant help alleviate their symptoms. Simply chew on a basil leaf as soon as the migraine starts.
Make 2 cups of strong basil leaf tea by boiling 2 cups of water and adding 4 tbsp of freshly chopped basil leaves. Strain and add the tea to a warm bath. This will facilitate relaxation as well as reduce stress.
The basil plant is always taken for granted by most of us. Though we have it on our spice rack, people do not really take the time to plant it on their own. However, doing so is pretty easy and will give you an abundance of this wonderful herb. Basil has many uses. So it is not a waste to start planting now.
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