Author Topic: Basil Question  (Read 3090 times)

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PaulsPizza

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Basil Question
« on: May 16, 2011, 08:01:59 AM »
Hi pizza people,

I buy my basil from a local grower already 6-8inches high and potted, it is a really nice dark green colour and smells amazing. However, after I have had it in my kitchen window for a week or so it loses it's dark green colour and goes pale green and it also loses it's strong smell.

What am I doing wrong? I keep the soil moist...
Sorry if it's a stupid question but I am in no way a gardener..

Thank you in advance for any help.

Paul


buceriasdon

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2011, 09:04:54 AM »
How much full sun are your basil plants getting a day? Basil thrives in full sun.
Don

Offline scott123

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2011, 09:18:46 AM »
Hey Paul  :)

Commercial basil is either grown outdoors with lots of sun, in a greenhouse, or under powerful grow lights.  The common  denominator is a lot of light.  A kitchen window, even a kitchen window that gets a lot of light, isn't going to receive the quantity of light that basil will thrive under- at least not in our climate. Maybe in southern California, they can put basil in windows, but not this far from the equator.

The leaves on top won't be dark green, but they'll be green enough to cook with. If you do a lot of cooking with basil, then the top leaves won't last long and you'll need to buy another plant. I've managed to grow a couple of basil plants from seed in a kitchen window, but they're incredibly anemic and a bit pale. I've thought about grow lights, but, by the time I spend the money on the light and the electricity, I can buy quite a few plants.

The one thing that I have noticed is that sun starved, slightly pale basil tends to be a little more intensely flavored than the dark green stuff. I know that if you fertilize basil, it loses flavor, so I'm wondering if strong sun has the same effect.

PaulsPizza

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2011, 10:10:26 AM »
Thank you Don and Scott!

It sounds like sunlight is the problem I have. Even though my kitchen window is south facing and I live on the very south coast of England, sunlight is still rare! lol

Scott, that's interesting that you say the sun starved slightly less green leaves have more taste than the dark green ones...I will test your theory tonight kind sir and report back with my findings..
Paul
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 10:43:36 AM by PaulsPizza »

Offline scott123

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2011, 12:22:46 PM »
Paul, fwiw, I haven't tasted tested pale leaves next to dark ones. I have noticed, though, that, since I've started using paler indoor grown basil, I'm using a lot less.

There's also a possibility, and this is just a theory as well, that paler basil might taste different than dark basil.  It might be more bitter.

buceriasdon

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2011, 12:51:19 PM »
One of the advantages of living in a semi-tropical climate is growing basil outside year around. This plant has a bit of an insect pest called scale so I will be cutting it off to the ground and letting it come back. I'll make and freeze pesto from it.
Don

Offline norma427

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2011, 06:09:38 PM »
Paul,

I am not an expert gardener, but I have grown basil inside over the winter and my basil plants were facing west, so they didnít get a lot of sun, but they did okay.  They only got direct sun from about 1pm to 5pm.  The one picture is of basil I had started from a sprig, from last winter, then it rooted, and then I planted it inside.  The inside picture was taken today.  I have planted many kinds of basil outside and they all taste a little different to me. The other picture is of two kinds of basil I just planted outside last week. When I plant basil inside, I do give it a little plant food about once a month and make sure I use good potting soil. I only water my basil once a week.

At reply 51 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,10535.msg104041.html#msg104041 3 rd picture down, that was the basil plant I had taken a sprig and put it inside over the winter.

At Reply 7 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,13125.msg128988.html#msg128988 5th picture down the same basil inside can be seen.

I do have a picture somewhere here on the forum of the basil grow from a sprig, and then taken inside for the winter.

Norma
« Last Edit: May 16, 2011, 06:12:59 PM by norma427 »
Always working and looking for new information!

PaulsPizza

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2011, 04:18:15 AM »
Thank you for that info Norma. You say that you only water your basil once a week, is your soil pretty dry most of the week? I feel I may be over watering mine... ???

PaulsPizza

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2011, 04:29:35 AM »
One of the advantages of living in a semi-tropical climate is growing basil outside year around. This plant has a bit of an insect pest called scale so I will be cutting it off to the ground and letting it come back. I'll make and freeze pesto from it.
Don

Don you lucky S.O.B! living in a semi-tropical climate!  :-D it's getting towards the end of May and it's chucking it down with rain and cold here as I type this...lol
1) Where do you live?
2) Does the pesto freeze well?

Paul

Offline c0mpl3x

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2011, 04:38:57 AM »
a high wattage CFL (100w or so) in a lower color temp (3000k is closest to sunlight) will make do.
Hotdogs kill more people than sharks do, yearly.


Offline gtsum2

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2011, 06:01:48 AM »
i have basil growing outside in my garden and it is doing well...but I do have a question on harvesting the leaves..what it the preferred method?  Take the top leaves first?  Do you pull it off, or cut them off and do you take it all the way back to the main growth??

buceriasdon

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2011, 07:21:32 AM »
Paul, I live on the Pacific side of Mexico near Puerto Vallarta. I mix only the basil and good olive oil in a food processor and spoon the mixture into ice cube trays. It keeps well frozen. I then thaw what I need for pizza and as I use different crushed nuts, pine, pecan, pistacio and the parmesan cheese sprinkled over the pizza. I don't make an attempt to spread out the pesto but leave it in small clumps. The pesto mixture flows out somewhat upon baking. My method differs from other pesto pizzas but I find the seperate flavors present themselves better this way than being mixed all together at the start. I top with thinly sliced plum tomato and garnish with sliced basil, ground pepper and salt. That's my method for pesto pizza with tomato. It may be the best pizza I make.
Don

Don you lucky S.O.B! living in a semi-tropical climate!  :-D it's getting towards the end of May and it's chucking it down with rain and cold here as I type this...lol
1) Where do you live?
2) Does the pesto freeze well?

Paul

Offline norma427

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2011, 09:12:16 AM »
Thank you for that info Norma. You say that you only water your basil once a week, is your soil pretty dry most of the week? I feel I may be over watering mine... ???

Paul,

I have my basil that is planted inside, in a bigger crock container.  It does hold pretty much soil, and the crock does have a drain hole.  I don't know, but maybe the bigger container does hold water better, along with professional potting soil, I get from Amish people.  Maybe that is why I don't need to water my basil that is inside much.  It has been raining in our area very much, but that doesn't seem to make a difference to the outside basil.  I guess it can drain well.

Norma

Norma
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buceriasdon

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2011, 09:27:22 AM »
Basil likes to be pruned back or it gets leggy and fewer leaves form. I take top leaves all the time.
Don

i have basil growing outside in my garden and it is doing well...but I do have a question on harvesting the leaves..what it the preferred method?  Take the top leaves first?  Do you pull it off, or cut them off and do you take it all the way back to the main growth??

Offline gtsum2

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2011, 05:32:42 PM »
Basil likes to be pruned back or it gets leggy and fewer leaves form. I take top leaves all the time.
Don


Thanks! 

to the OP's point, I have only had sporadic success growing it inside (window sill).  For me, it does much, much better outside in the garden

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #15 on: June 12, 2011, 06:49:07 PM »
Some good points here.

Basil does indeed like to be pinched back, or it does get leggy very quickly. Not to mention it will race toward flowering, at which point the plant starts to turn woody (as in the stems go from the tender green phase to actually becoming woody and difficult to pinch), which will impact the flavor of the leaves.

Basil does not favor going to bed wet. Obviously, storms at night cannot be helped and are part of the equation, but any watering should be done earlier in the day so that the soil is, ideally, not too wet during night time.

Sun is definitely a huge factor. More is better. That means if you have a choice, a South facing window is the best bet. In the yard, plant where the most sun hours per day are available.

Finally, the soil can be an issue. Especially for potted plants, people may tend to plant in much too rich a soil. This could be the case outside as well. While the addition of some organic matter is not a bad thing and preferable to regular fertilization with liquid mixes, cutting in some sand into the mix helps keep the soil from becoming too nutrient rich and also helps with drainage....as many species of basil do not like wet top soils.

It's not exactly the same, but think of it a little like vines for winemaking.....the best wines are produced from grapes which have been significantly cropped back to reduce the amount of grapes which a single vine will produce, the vines are planted in close proximity to each other so that roots are forced to grow more straight downwards to avoid competition from neighboring vines (and this taps into deeper lying water and any minerality specific to the soil (the terroir so to speak) and are generally planted in poor soils....shockingly poor in some instances (as in right into solid stone in some places), which again forces the roots to go downwards. Such "under stress" vines send all of their energy into a smaller amount of fruit instead of being dispersed into many grapes....resulting in grapes with a more concentrated, potent juice content. Avoidance of a dilution effect.

Basil is similar. By "pinching" off on a regular basis (not too aggressively, you obviously need leaves for photosynthesis), not planting in too rich a soil and not overwatering, the oil content of the leaves is better maintained, which makes for a more flavorful leaves. --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

PaulsPizza

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #16 on: June 12, 2011, 06:56:48 PM »
Some good points here.

Basil does indeed like to be pinched back, or it does get leggy very quickly. Not to mention it will race toward flowering, at which point the plant starts to turn woody (as in the stems go from the tender green phase to actually becoming woody and difficult to pinch), which will impact the flavor of the leaves.

Basil does not favor going to bed wet. Obviously, storms at night cannot be helped and are part of the equation, but any watering should be done earlier in the day so that the soil is, ideally, not too wet during night time.

Sun is definitely a huge factor. More is better. That means if you have a choice, a South facing window is the best bet. In the yard, plant where the most sun hours per day are available.

Finally, the soil can be an issue. Especially for potted plants, people may tend to plant in much too rich a soil. This could be the case outside as well. While the addition of some organic matter is not a bad thing and preferable to regular fertilization with liquid mixes, cutting in some sand into the mix helps keep the soil from becoming too nutrient rich and also helps with drainage....as many species of basil do not like wet top soils.

It's not exactly the same, but think of it a little like vines for winemaking.....the best wines are produced from grapes which have been significantly cropped back to reduce the amount of grapes which a single vine will produce, the vines are planted in close proximity to each other so that roots are forced to grow more straight downwards to avoid competition from neighboring vines (and this taps into deeper lying water and any minerality specific to the soil (the terroir so to speak) and are generally planted in poor soils....shockingly poor in some instances (as in right into solid stone in some places), which again forces the roots to go downwards. Such "under stress" vines send all of their energy into a smaller amount of fruit instead of being dispersed into many grapes....resulting in grapes with a more concentrated, potent juice content. Avoidance of a dilution effect.

Basil is similar. By "pinching" off on a regular basis (not too aggressively, you obviously need leaves for photosynthesis), not planting in too rich a soil and not overwatering, the oil content oft the leaves is better maintained, which makes for a more flavorful leaves. --K

Brilliantly posted Kelly.
The top ones are best... lol......leaves we mean.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2011, 07:07:16 PM by PaulsPizza »

Offline Jackie Tran

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2011, 11:02:22 AM »

Basil does not favor going to bed wet. Obviously, storms at night cannot be helped and are part of the equation, but any watering should be done earlier in the day so that the soil is, ideally, not too wet during night time.

Basil is similar. By "pinching" off on a regular basis (not too aggressively, you obviously need leaves for photosynthesis), not planting in too rich a soil and not overwatering, the oil content of the leaves is better maintained, which makes for a more flavorful leaves. --K

Great tips Kelly.  I was having a problem with my basil not being flavorful enough.  The culprit was overwatering.  I cut way back, and now my leaves are thick, deeper in color and flavor.  Thanks!

Chau

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2011, 02:43:16 PM »
Wow, forgot I even posted this!  :-[

Thanks PaulsPizza

Jackie, glad I could be of help in some way and that your basil is faring better now.

I dread the cold winter months when the basil does not grow....life is certainly much better when it's around!
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell

Offline pizzablogger

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Re: Basil Question
« Reply #19 on: July 24, 2011, 07:17:17 PM »
At our Baltimore Farmers Market (one of the largest on the East Coast.....go Bawlmer!) a vendor who sells excellent greens and lettuces is now offering basil.

I picked up a bag and struck up my usual conversation with this vendor. He mentioned that the basil was very clean because they grow it in water....it never touches soil. I immediately looked much closer at the basil and just had to shut my mouth.

The basil was like a photo with a matte finish.....not a glossy. This is due to a lack of oils on/in the leaves which are critical to flavor....and being grown in water is a way to immediately dilute oils in an herb.

As suspected, when my wife and I popped a leaf in our mouths as we walked away, the only flavor was a green, vegetal taste without any "basily", anise, licorice, oily, etc notes one would expect.

Soil, only enough water to keep the plant surviving and from becoming woody at the stem and that's it....no mas! --K
"It's Baltimore, gentlemen, the gods will not save you." --Burrell