Globe Basil

'Spicy Globe'
Small-leaf Basil


"Eat roots and herbs;
it is His will," said the Ape-man.

-The Island of
Doctor Moreau
H. G. Wells

Globe small-leaf basil is variously called Globe Greek Basil, Spicy Globe Basil, or Bush Sweet Basil. It is often sold as a substantive start in a little pot carefully trimmed to look like a ball, but it soon fluffs out & does not remain a globe after you put it in a nice sunny spot in a fertilized container watered daily.

If you really want it to look like its name, it'll take some careful sheering each time you go for some leaves to use in the kitchen. Because it's so compact, it makes an amusingly transient topiary subject. It also shares a container with one or two other herbs very happily because it stays tight to itself in any case.

Globe BasilThis one came in a compostable peat pot, boldly advertised as a "green" product you can plant with the basil still in it, & it'll compost right there where you plant it. That's bullshit advice/advertising gimmick designed to make us gardeners feel special for not perpetuating more plastic pots that never decay, & so we can play with the planting as though with a toy.

Sure, the peat pot will compost by the end of the following winter, but in the meantime the pitiful annual will be rootbound & suffering. Unless the pot is already partially decomposed & roots sticking through it, peal it off & toss it in the compost pile, as otherwise it will just retard the basil's growth.

It's important not to let it bloom if you want maximum foliage, whether for the silly topiary sheering or for much more thrilling culinary purposes. It wants to bloom very badly, however, & will need continuously to have the flower buds pinched off.

I went ahead & let it bloom so I could get a flower portrait, & when I snapped one that was adequate, I then clipped off all the flowers & buds, which happily are as edible as the leaves. I used a great wad of the flowers in an omelet, & how tasty it was, completely different in flavor than the leaves.

But as you can see from the portrait, if the buds aren't pinched, this would be a floriferous annual very appealing for its spikes of white blossoms, even if less leaf-productive for letting it tire itself producing flowers & seeds. Some people do indeed grow it just as an aromatic annual for its flowers & don't care much about harvesting leaves with which to cook.

This is one of the swiftest growing basils. As the little-leafed subspecies, its leaves are the smallest of the basils we've grown, but more productive than some of the big-leafed ones. We always plant several varieties for kitchen use, because each variety really does taste different, & narry a one tastes bad. But some of them really cannot keep up with our culinary needs, whereas Globe bares up to almost daily plucking of its leaves.

Basil has a considerable mythology, & was once known as the Witches' Herb because cited in so many magical recipes. Thee small-leafed bush-basil in particular is associated with funerals & ceremonies of death, poverty, or misfortune. Many redolent plants became funerary necessities in days when it didn't take long for one's dearly departed to begin to smell bad. Throughout the Near East & Mid East, bush basil was planted on graves.

And yet according to Maud Grieve's A Modern Herbal (1931), among the Moldavians, bush basil represented romantic love, as among the Celts it was symbolic of marriage. It seems to have a very old association with the marriage of Aphrodite to Ares.

Continue to:
'Magic Mountain' Purple Sweet Basil

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