Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Sweet Basil

In the middle of my sadly neglected container garden, there's a large rectangular pot of lemon basil.  It is incomparable stuff--sharp and tangy and tasty. 

Over the past couple of seasons, while I've let the rest of the garden go, the lemon basil has bravely continued on its own.  And I have reaped the bounty of it.  I snip the long branches, leaving the base of the plant to continue producing, and then I hang those branches upside down to dry in my kitchen hallway.  After a week or two, I strip the leaves and some of the smaller twigs into a big glass jar to store in the pantry.  I also keep some of the lemon basil in a smaller jar near the stove for immediate use.  It has a flavor like no other, and I truly enjoy it.

I've been a bit worried about that pot of lemon basil.  The cold snap of the past few days has been unusually harsh--so harsh, in fact, that it has decimated every leaf of the large philodendron that lives near my front door.  The philodendron will come back; I'm sure of it.  After all, it has come back every year since my mother and I bought it in 1974.  Unusually, it even blooms, and a blooming philodendron is something that few people ever have the privilege to see.  I believe that it's one of nature's great gifts.  And it will return.

But I don't know about that lemon basil.  I started it from seed which, predictably enough, I purchased on eBay.  I have no idea how hardy the plant truly is, and I wonder whether I may have to begin again.  There are many different seed packets stored in my freezer but I doubt that there is any lemon basil.  It's a rare and precious thing.

When I stopped in at the dollar store today on my way to the Post Office, I happened to see one of those cheap little seed starter kits they sell every spring.  I've bought them before, and none of them has ever produced anything.  Really, I should have kept that dollar in my pocket.  But I didn't. 

When I came home, I started those seeds with the wishes of spring and the hopes of summer to come.  Sweet basil.....it will be different.  Earthy and fragrant and tasty.  Different is just fine.

Life is good.

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