Basil Bumper Crop

Late summer is Basil time around my house. After growing all summer in my veggie garden, it is full and bushy, even though I am using it regularly in cooking. Heat and sun loving, this summer has been both, and the Basil this year is loving it! The hydroponic stuff you buy in the grocery store doesn’t compare with sun warmed fresh cut Basil from the garden.

Downy Mildew

Basil, one of my top herb favorites, has become a little more difficult to grow in the mid-Atlantic region. Normally a cinch to grow, Basil has been plagued by fatal downy mildew, which makes it unsightly and unusable.

Downy mildew disfigures the entire plant
Downy mildew disfigures the entire plant

Appearing in the last couple of years, downy Mildew is sweeping through the country like wildfire. It starts with leaf yellowing, which looks like a nutritional deficiency and then spots appear and can make the entire plant inedible. Under the right weather conditions (wet, warm weather), Basil downy mildew can spread rapidly and result in complete loss of all your Basil plants. Although Peronospora belbahrii, the pathogen that causes Basil downy mildew, cannot survive our mid-Atlantic winters, it can be reintroduced on infected seed or transplants or by windblown spores. So, it is here to stay.

Mildew disfigures the entire basil plant
Mildew disfigures the entire Basil plant
Some good looking basil showing signs of downy mildew

Disfiguring my Basil plants by late spring/early summer, I despaired of growing this stalwart of my kitchen for pesto ever again.

Try Resistant Amazel Basil

I was delighted to find a new cultivar of Basil called Amazel, a game changing plant, which is resistant to Downy Mildew. Amazel is a hunky vigorous plant  and I am back in the green with Amazel Basil from Proven Winners.

Amazel has excellent resistance to Downy Mildew, which will keep plants growing and producing for home gardeners throughout the entire season. Unlike typical Basil, Amazel is seed sterile and therefore continues to produce leaves and shoots even after starting to flower unlike other Basil varieties that focus most or all of their energy into seed production.

A healthy hydroponic basil plant
A healthy hydroponic basil plant

Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese, copper, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids such as beta-carotene), and vitamin C; and a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. I had no idea this tasty herb was so good for you!

Amazel Basil
Amazel Basil from Proven Winners

Pesto

For simple Pesto to use up all that extra basil:

Place in your food processor or blender, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup water, 1/4 cup raw pine nuts, 3 cloves of garlic, chopped coarsely, and 4 cups of basil leaves, 1 cup of parsley, chopped coarsely and packed lightly into the measuring cup.

Wash and strip off the basil leaves
Blend all the leaves together

Blend well, stirring large bits back into the mixture and re-blending as needed. Transfer the mixture into a bowl and stir in 3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Add a sprinkling of grated black pepper.

Blend in the pine nuts

And sit back and enjoy this concoction on your pasta or my favorite- grilled salmon ! You can keep this in the fridge with a layer of olive oil on top for a couple of weeks or freeze it. I freeze it in ice-cube containers for ease of removing throughout the winter.

Slather pesto on top of salmon on the grill

One Reply to “Basil Bumper Crop”

  1. Oh my goodness, I have been growing basil for many years and we love it……..
    I grow it and my husband, Norris, cooks with it. Thanks for expanding our knowledge on this plant.

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