Saturday, April 2, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Challenge brought to you by The Letter "B"


Hello! And welcome to the 2016 A-Z CHALLENGE!!

* confetti *

This year, I’m blogging my way through a botanical alphabet
I hope you enjoy your time here and by all means,
come back tomorrow and see what plant I’m highlighting! Cheers!!

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Basil
ocium basilicum
aka: common basil, sweet basil

photo from www.farmflavor.com

Folklore gives us mixed signals regarding Basil. In Italy it symbolizes love but in Greece it symbolizes hate. In Jewish lore it brings strength during long fasting and in India the plant is sacred to Krishna and Vishnu.

Basil oil has strong psychological effects and has been used to cheer and strengthen those with tendencies towards depression. Holy Basil or Tulsi is used in India as a calming and refreshing tea. When planted in a garden, Basil is a great companion for tomatoes. That's not surprising considering Basil and tomatoes have a delicious relationship in Italian cooking.

If you do plant Basil, have some fun and follow the ancient tradition of screaming and swearing at it. Apparently, the ancients believed the display of ranting ensured the health of the plant and would banish the scorpions they believed were attracted to the plant. Thankfully I've never been plagued by scorpions in my Basil, nor am I accused of witchcraft for growing it but had I lived in Salem, Massachusetts in the late 1600s I would have been. Thankfully, such ridiculous close-mindedness no long accompanies most herb growers and I'm free to dry my Basil and use it in cooking and teas and however else I wish to use this beautiful, fragrant, and versatile plant.

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All research references can be found in my Library of Botanical Miscellany

Disclaimer
These posts are in NO WAY medical suggestions. They are intended for informational purposes only.
If you are interested in pursuing natural, herbal remedies, get thee to a reputable herb shop (preferably one that is locally and independently owned and operated) and get educated!

Disclaimer II
It’s ridiculous that anyone writing about herbal and traditional remedies should have to put a disclaimer at the end of anything. 
Use your brain and think for yourself! Just as you shouldn't take a pharmaceutical at face value, 
do your herbal research and learn about the amazing plants around us.


28 comments:

  1. Jen,
    A fun idea for the A-Z Challenge! Toward the end, I was picturing what the neighbors must think when you start therapeutically shouting at your plants! This was really interesting stuff. Thanks!
    Anne from AnneHiga.com.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! I haven't tried it yet, but I will! It will definitely up my reputation for being "eccentric"!

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  2. I smelled basil as soon as I saw your post. Ha! What would we do without basil? Love it, especially in Italian dishes, and it smells so good. Tastes good, smells good, no wonder it cheers people up!
    Cheers! Happy B day!

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    1. Indeed! I LOVE Basil and can't wait to have enough sun to grow it again!

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  3. Good they no longer think it makes you go all bippity boppity boo haha I guess if one needs a good rant, go and get a basil plant.

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    1. HaHa! Well, I wouldn't be so sure. I've been accused of being a witch within the past few years, by association with my mother who also grows and uses herbs.

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  4. I crave Basil year around, so keep a plant growing in my greenhouse. Of course, I make batches of pesto in the summer and freeze that into cubes for my winter pasta. Life without Basil is no life at all! And now I know it was sacred. All the more better.

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    1. My mom makes pesto and freezes it the same way! It adds such a lovely flavor to winter stews.

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  5. I'm thinking of putting purple basil in one of my flowerpots this year. Basil hasn't been happy in my garden since my neighbor's tree shaded it out. But the purple basil is so pretty, it will be nice with the flowers, methinks.

    Happy B Day!
    ~AJ Lauer, an A-Z Co-host
    Twitter: @ayjaylauer

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    1. Basil needs LOTS of sun! Purple basil is gorgeous! I've always loved it. If you pick it and put it in vinegar, it will color the vinegar a gorgeous pink color!

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  6. I have a few herbs on my terrace, but no basil. Uhm... I think I shoudl do soemthign about it ;-)

    I didn't know about that ancient practice, poor basil. Being shouted at. That's funny.
    And I didn't knwo abotu basil growing well with tomatos and vice versa. Yeas, that may well be why we Italians often use the two together (but then, they taste lovely too).

    Sometimes back, an herbalist helped me with a story I'm writing and suggested a few herbs for a tea to be used in my story. I devised a tea she approved and it contained basil (I needed it to contain only herbs normally used in cooking). Then I thought, hey, I'm going to try it.
    It's one of my favourite tea now ;-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

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    1. I drink Tulsi or Holy Basil tea a lot and it's one of my favorite teas! I need to try some fresh basil tea. I loved learning that basil grows well with tomatoes. It makes sense, though. I can't imagine tomato sauce without basil.

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  7. Screaming and swearing at the plant = healthy plant?
    You are quite knowledgeable on this topic, Jen.
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Thanks! I've been researching herbs for a long time but I always learn something new when I start reading about them!

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  8. I love basil especially in my homemade marinara sauce. Kids grow basil in little clay pots too.

    http://authorstephentremp.blogspot.com/2016/04/b-is-for-biblical-dreams.html

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    1. I remember getting a little herb garden kit when I was a kid and it contained basil. I think they all do! It's very easy to grow.

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  9. What drastic meanings across cultures. I enjoy cooking with basil and the love the aroma of fresh basil.
    Write What Inspires You Blog

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    1. It's so interesting to read how one culture reveres a plant while another hates it! Mmmm, I'm smelling basil right now!

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  10. Ranting and swearing at a plant...I could do that.

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    1. Haha! Me too! Perhaps that's why my basil always does so well :)

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  11. So fascinating, Jen! I associate basil with Italian, but I'm totally, 100% herb (and plant) illiterate. That makes me sad, considering my age. :(

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    1. Oh don't be sad! There's so much to learn out there about plants! No one could ever learn it all!

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  12. Last summer, I decided to grow my own basil to use in flavored water. Never knew how prolific it was, or how well it attracted little bitty bugs! That was a short-lived project. I like that it symbolizes love in Italy.

    Gail’s 2016 April A to Z Challenge
    B is for Breathe Deep

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    1. It is very prolific and, yes, lots of little bugs love it. If it grows long enough to bloom, bees adore basil!

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  13. Hello from A to Z. I'm a new follower. I'm also part of IWSG and it looks like we haven't crossed paths yet.

    I like to put basil in my cooking sometimes and I tried to grow some in my yard last year. I bought two bags of seeds and from that, only two leaves came. I guess maybe it's because I didn't scream at the seeds loud enough, haha.

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    1. Hi Cynthia! Welcome :) Growing anything from seed is tricky. I try to get as many of my plants already sprouted. Anytime I try seeds my results are rather dim.

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  14. I am growing basil this year for the first time. So far, I have not sworn and screamed at it, just near it, in the normal course of my day. Happy to report it seems to be doing fairly well with just that incidental exposure. :)

    Nice to meet a fellow A-Z Challenger!

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    1. Splendid! See, I knew those old legends couldn't be all false :) Nice to meet you as well!

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Well hello there! I'm happy you wandered by. Make yourself comfortable and I'll pour the tea. Cake? Chocolate? Take your time, meander, and don't forget to join in. Be sure and check back later! I respond to all comments here :)