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Basil, the Herb of Summer

Basil, the Herb of Summer

By Therese Ciesinski, GardenSMART’s In the Dirt Editor
Photography courtesy of All-America Selections

You know it’s truly summer when basil is ready for its first harvest. On tomatoes, in pesto, however you like it, growing your own basil is easy, and there’s nothing like snipping a few leaves for a meal to wean you from the dusty, dry stuff sold at the supermarket.

From our friends at All-America Selections (AAS), comes news of a new variety of basil for herb lovers to try. According to the AAS website:

“If there was an AAS category for an edible plant with ornamental value, this AAS Winner would fit that classification. Dolce Fresca produces sweet tender leaves that outshone the comparison varieties while maintaining an attractive, compact shape that’s both versatile and beautiful. Use the leaves as you would any Genovese basil and we hear it makes an excellent pesto. After harvest, the plant was quick to recover and kept the desired ornamental shape that’s perfect for containers, borders or as a focal point. Great for gardeners looking for drought tolerant, hearty plants, foodies interested in a new and better basil and anyone who wants that great Mediterranean taste added to their cuisine.”

An annual, basil is cold sensitive, and frost is its enemy. Sow successive plantings every couple of weeks in June and early July, and harvest leaves often to keep the plants from flowering. This way, you’ll have plenty of the herb to enjoy fresh, to dry, and to freeze.

Here is a growing guide for basil:

And if you’re looking for new ideas on how to use those tasty leaves, try this recipe for a tomato and basil cheese tart:

More information on basil Dolce Fresca, plus a list of the rest of the 2015 All-America Selections can be found at

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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