Basil is one of the most aromatic and recognisable herbs, and a key ingredient in much Italian cooking. It grows wild in southern Europe, but it actually originated in India, where it’s considered sacred. According to wikipedia, the word basil comes from the Greek ‘basileus’, meaning “king”, as it is believed to have grown above the spot where St. Constantine and Helen discovered the Holy Cross. Like rosemary, it is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae). It thrives in British soil, however, and does especially well grown in pots on the kitchen windowsill and in greenhouses.
A lot of people are put off from keeping basil after bringing home the plants available in supermarkets and watching them deteriorate in front of their eyes. They can be a bit of a challenge because basil needs a lot of sunshine to really do well. However, it’s worth perservering as having fresh basil leaves is a boon to your kitchen.
It’s available in many different varieties, but the most popular is Sweet Basil (ocimum basilcum). You may also like to try Cinnimon Basil or Lemon Basil (great with fish).
The most important thing for basil is a good supply of sunshine. It likes to be in full sun, so this can be difficult if you’re growing it indoors. However, you may be able to find a suitable sunny spot, or if you’re especially keen, you could buy an indoor growing light. It also grows well on a sunny windowsill in a window box, but make sure it’s sheltered from cold winds and frost in the winter. Make sure you use a compost with good drainage and good luck! See the post on how to grow basil from seed to get started, and tips for healthy plants for maintaining your plant.
Basil seeds are cheap as chips. You have nothing to lose and a lot of basil to gain!