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Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs
Growing & Selling
             Fresh-Cut Herbs
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Growing and Selling
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Herb of the Month


Ocimum basilicum                                   Cultural recommendations for basil  Annual                                                    LIGHT-full sun
18" to 36"                                                 SOIL TYPE-rich loam
                                                                SPACING-18" to 24"
                                                                HARDINESS-to 40 degrees Fahrenheit                                                                 SEED DEPTH-1/4"
                                                                GERMINATION TIME-3 to 6 days

     Basil is currently the most popular herb for fresh-cut use. Just about every ethnic group uses some variety of basil in their cuisine. Because of its popularity most commercial growers report that this is their biggest seller.
     There are many varieties of basil available today. The most often used type is regular sweet basil. Within the sweet basil type other popular varieties are lettuce leaf and mammoth basil. These produce larger leaves, which are sometimes crinkled. The Italian types of basils include Genovese and Italian large leaf.
     There are several varieties of lemon basil that are gaining in popularity with chefs and cooks. Thai basil is very strong flavored and is often used in Oriental dishes. Purple basils are ornamental as well as useful in cooking. There are many types of specialty basils available from lime to cinnamon. These are interesting to grow but seem to have limited commercial value.
     Basil is one of the easiest, and most difficult, herbs to grow. It is easy to start from seed and grows rapidly during ideal conditions. There are many situations that can cause difficulties with growing basil. It is a most tender herb and won't grow well during cool soil or air conditions. These conditions, along with excessive humidity, can cause fungal diseases to which it is very prone. This makes it especially difficult to grow basil in greenhouses during the cool weather season. Bugs and slugs love basil too and they can cause much cosmetic damage making the foliage useless for sales.
     Basil tends to flower early in the season so constant picking of the flower buds is important. Most chefs will not use flowering basil as it tends to become bitter when the flowers begin to form. Make successive plantings of this herb to have a young crop to harvest while the older plants are recovering from picking off the flower buds.
     Basil is covered in more detail in Chapter 15 of Growing and Selling Fresh-Cut Herbs.
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