|Lime basil seedlings in my New Zealand
spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes) rows.
Lime basil loves Florida's
hot, wet summers!
Lime basil (Ocimum americanum) is native to Africa, India, and Southeast Asia, not the Americas, despite its species epithet. It has a strong citrus odor and a cross between lime basil and sweet basil (O.basilicum) is known as lemon basil.
Sweet basil, which is the traditional basil for Italian cooking including pesto, is susceptible to fungal diseases once the wet season begins here in Florida.
So, a number of years ago, I bought some lime basil seed from Burpee on the advice that it was more heat tolerant. It was so prolific that it has been self seeding in my edible beds ever since. Read my previous Lime basil article for more information.
This year I transplanted the seedlings from my okra and New Zealand spinach beds to its own row, so I could keep those crops weeded and have a good basil crop as well.
This is the story from rogue seedlings to pesto.
|I created a 16" wide row next to the garage for the lime basil seedlings.
|Nine days after the top photo, the seedlings now had their first true leaves and the cotyledon seed leaves had grown longer stems.
|24 days after the second planting, the seedling have grown.
|Twelve days later, the basil is ready for the first harvest.
|The basil had begun to bloom.
Once a basil stem produces flowers, foliage production stops on that stem, the stem becomes woody, and essential oil production declines. So in order to have the most flavorful pesto, it was time to harvest.
|Here are the ingredients lined up next to the food processor. What was different ths time was instead of chopped garlic from the store, I used bulblets that I'd previously harvested from my meadow garlic (Allium canadense). I collect them to reduce their weediness in my edible bed areas.
My pesto differs from the traditional Italian pesto, in that the ingredients vary depending upon the harvest and what's on hand and also that it's lightened by some extent by the addition of yogurt and mayonnaise. Also, I use sunflower seeds instead of pine nuts, since I usually have them on hand. It's not the same as traditional pesto, but is delicious and can be used in similar ways.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: about a cup--enough to keep it semi-liquid
- The leaves and buds from an armful of basil: about 3 cups
- Greek oregano: about 30 leaves
- Rosemary: about 30 leaves
- Garlic chives: about 20 leaves
- Dollarweed: about 20 leaves
- Parmesan cheese: 2/3 of a cup
- Horseradish: 1 heaping tablespoon
- Meadow garlic bulblets: 2/3 of a cup
- Roasted sunflower seeds: 1 cup
- Olive oil mayonnaise: 1/2 cup
- Plain non-fat yogurt: 1/2 cup
Blend in the food processor to the desired creaminess. Mine has a bit of roughness. This produced 5 cups of pesto. I froze three 1-cup containers so we can have pesto in the future.
Just for fun, here's a link to an article that includes a pesto recipe with no basil. (Read to the end: it starts with a beautiful meadow.)
|A few hours later, the stubs of the basil had perked up and looked like they were already starting to grow!
|And I found two Malabar spinach vines at one end of the basil bed. This is another crop that readily reseeds. I'll install a tomato cage to act as a trellis for this vining crop.
We love cooking to the harvest. I hope you are enjoying your harvests, too.
Green Gardening Matters,