Common name: anise Botanical name: Pimpinella anisum Origin: Europe
Few varieties are available; grow the variety available in your area.
Anise is a slow-growing annual with low, spreading, bushy plants that grow 12 to 14 inches tall and almost as wide. The flowers are yellowish-white in umbrella-shaped clusters and appear about 10 weeks after planting. The licorice-flavored seeds are most commonly used in baking, candy, or to flavor liquors. Anise used to be credited with warding off the evil eye; the Romans flavored their cakes with it on special occasions. Anise was one of the first European herbs to become popular in America.
Where and when to grow
Anise needs a long growing season — at least 120 days free of frost. It also prefers a moderate and uniform rainfall, especially at harvesttime.
Anise prefers a well-drained fertile soil. Work a complete, well-balanced fertilizer into the soil before planting at the rate of one pound per 100 square feet. Give anise a location in full sun, and plant it from seed in early spring, two weeks after the average date of last frost. Plant the seeds a quarter inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart, and when the seedlings are six weeks old, thin them to six to 12 inches apart.
Fertilize before planting and again at midseason, at the same rate as the rest of the garden. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.
Anise prefers uniform moisture especially at or just before harvesting. Alternate rainy and dry periods when the" seed is near maturity can cause it to turn brown, reducing quality and yield.
Anise has no serious pest problems.
Storing and preserving
Anise has no serious disease problems.
When and how to harvest
The dry seeds can be stored for months in airtight containers. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.
Harvest the anise seed heads approximately 100 days after planting, while they are still green and immature. Be sure to harvest before the first frost.
Add anise to bouillon for fish or veal stews. Sprinkle anise seeds on an apple crisp. Aniseed balls are an old-fashioned favorite children's candy.
Common name: basil Botanical names: Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum crispum, Ocimum minimum Origin: India, Central America
Citriodorum (lemon-scented); Dark Opal (purple-red leaves and rose-colored flowers); Minimum (dwarf variety). Or grow the variety available in your area.
These tender annuals grow one to 21/2 feet tall, with square stems and opposite leaves. Basil may have either green or purple-red soft-textured leaves, and spikes of small whitish or lavender flowers. In India basil is considered a holy herb. In Italy it is a love gift, and in Romania it is an engagement token. In Greece the connotation is less romantic; there basil is a symbol of death and hatred. Basil has the distinction of being fragrant at all stages of its development.
Where and when to grow
Like most herbs, basil can be grown quite easily anywhere in the United States. It prefers a
Basil seedling climate that does not run to extremes of temperatures, but it tolerates heat better than cold. The first fall frost will kill the plant. It's grown from seed or transplants, and you can plant either in spring, a week or two after your area's average date of last frost. Basil makes a charming houseplant — put It in a sunny window.
Basil needs a well-drained soil that's high in organic matter. It does well in soil that many other plants wouldn't tolerate; and too-fertile soil is actually a disadvantage, because it encourages lush foliage but a low oil content, which affects the aromatic quality of the herb. If you grow from seed, sow the seed a quarter inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart. When the seedlings are growing strongly, thin them to stand four to six inches apart. A sunny spot is best, but basil will tolerate light shade. Basil seeds itself and will often produce good plants if the soil is not disturbed too much in the spring. Using transplants in the spring will mean you can harvest your basil sooner. You can also buy a healthy plant from a nursery or farmers' market stand and plant that. If you want to grow basil indoors, put it in a sunny window or under lights.
Do not fertilize basil; overfertilizing is a disadvantage to most aromatic herbs. If the soil is very acid, sweeten it with some lime. Otherwise, let it be. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.
If basil needs water the leaves will wilt — give it enough water to prevent this.
Pinch off the terminal shoots to encourage branching and slow down flower production. If you don't, the plants will get tall and leggy-
Basil has no serious pest problems.
Basil has no serious disease problems.
When and how to harvest
Pick the basil as you need it by cutting a few inches off the top. This will encourage the plant to become bushy instead of going to flower.
Store the crushed dry leaves in an airtight container. You can also freeze the leaves. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.
Fresh basil gives a wonderful flavor to sliced tomatoes dressed with a little oil and lemon juice, and it's good in other salads, too. Fresh basil is the essential ingredient in pesto, a luxuriously aromatic pasta dish. You can also use the leaves — fresh or dried — with fish, game and meat dishes, on eggs, and in stews and sauces. Try herbed butter with basil, or make basil vinegar.
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