Last summer I had high hopes that I would be able to grow a garden full of fresh produce and herbs, working hard to feed myself with extremely local foods. Sadly, my garden plot yielded mainly tall weeds and a few very tough, bitter radishes. I was ashamed at my failure to do my duties as a young person concerned about environmental health and wholesome, conscientious nutrition. In any case, this year, my big-city residence leaves me with limited options to redeem myself as a green-thumbed garden enthusiast. To satisfy my jealous cravings for homegrown something, and prove that I can be successful at cultivating the earth, I invested in a culinary herb that will grow in my windowsill: a basil plant! So far, the fact that my basil is alive and continuing to produce leaves, proves that literally anyone is capable of caring for this fantastic, fragrant and multi-faceted spice and herbal medicine.
According to experts at basilplant.org, basil is one of the “easiest, fastest growing herbs” and can thrive either indoors or outside. Furthermore, the scent that basil releases while on the plant acts as a natural insect repellent, so keeping a plant in your window will lower the number of bugs that enter your home. Its leaves expand and multiply the more you pick, making it extremely cost effective to procure your own plant. Basil is known especially for its fresh taste in Italian foods, but can compliment a wide variety of dishes. It is easy to use – either as a whole leaf in salad or appetizers, chopped and sprinkled on top of a hot food, or cooked right into sauces/pestos, stir-fry or soup. As part of the same plant family as mint, basil can even be made into a refreshing tea! Cheap, plentiful, and successfully grown even by a gardening disaster like me!
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Basil is especially rich in vitamin K (2 teaspoons provide you with 27 percent of your daily value), a nutrient that is essential in bone formation, blood clotting, and helping the body transport calcium. It is also a good source of vitamin A, a nutrient proven to enhance the health of your eyes, and manganese, which also supplements bone growth.