Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:58 pm
Basil has accompanied people since ancient times. Today widespread throughout the world, the exact origin of the legendary herb plant is largely elucidated. Browse here interesting info regarding origin, cultivation and use.
Milestones in the historical development
It is highly probable that the cultivation of basil began in India. In Hindu scriptures thousands of years old, the herb plant is described in detail. To this day, Indians include the sacred herb in daily religious rites. The following milestones mark the path of basil to Europe, mixing legend and fact:
- in Egypt, basil wreaths served as a sacred burial offering in 3,500 B.C.
- the famous physician Hippocrates (460-377 BC) mentions basil in his writings
- the soldiers of Alexander the Great (356 – 323 B.C.) bring basil from India to Southern Europe
- Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) recommends the cultivation of royal herb in the monastery garden
Thus, basil made its way to Europe as early as the 12th century. Since then, its central use has changed from a purely medicinal herb to one of the most popular kitchen herbs. While its inimitable aroma is undisputed, therapeutic use is now discouraged due to possible carcinogenic effects.
Despite its tropical origin, the cultivation of basil is uncomplicated even in European latitudes. Within the wide range of varieties, there are specimens for perennial cultivation in the bed as well as for annual cultivation on the balcony. If you consider the following essential aspects, you can enjoy the first harvest within a few weeks after sowing:
- Sowing behind glass from the beginning of April
- germination temperature 20 to 25 degrees Celsius
- germination time 5 to 14 days
- planting out in the open from mid-May
- sunny, warm, well protected location
- nutrient-rich, fresh and moist soil
- Proper care of basil focuses on a balanced water and nutrient supply. As long as the substrate does not dry out and organic fertilizer is applied weekly, the herb plant will thrive. To extend the harvest period to its maximum duration, constant cutting of the shoots will prevent flowering.
Tips & Tricks
Gourmets never allow fresh basil to be cooked in a hot dish. The unique aroma content of the leaves is almost completely destroyed by heating. Only in the finale of a preparation the hour of the king herb strikes.