After discovering home-made basil pesto last summer, I was determined to grow as much basil as I could this season.
Normally I don’t use basil much—just plant it with tomatoes as a companion—but this pesto (recipe follows) is to die for.
Always on the lookout for new propagation techniques, I spied Fothergill seed packets at Bunnings recently, featuring basil ‘seed mats’.
There are 5 to a packet and each seed mat is a circle of double tissue, 8 cm in diameter, impregnated with about 30 basil seeds. The idea is to place the mat on the top of a similar sized pot, cover lightly with soil or potting mix and keep moist. Result: a pot of basil, ideal to plant into the garden or give as a gift (five good Christmas gifts).
I put 3 of the mats in a seed tray in sieved potting mix, and didn’t cover them, but kept them moist with a hand sprayer. Because the weather was still cool, I put the tray on the heated propagating mat inside, in a sunny window. I intend to pot up the individual seedlings for planting in a wicking box.
They germinated in 7 days and here’s what they look like 2 weeks after sowing:
They’re still coming up, so the germination rate isn’t too bad. It’s an easy way to sow seed which doesn’t result in a mass of crowded seedlings and the risk of damping off. I wish more seed suppliers would do this.
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Blend all except the cheese in a food processor, then stir in the cheese by hand.
Store in the refrigerator.
Keep a thin layer of olive oil on top to stop the basil darkening.