Are you a fan of basil?

A few years ago, I produced an entire long-format show about basil for the Still Growing podcast.

It was Episode 573, and I called it Basilmania.

At one point or another, we’ve all needed an introduction to basil and pesto. So, if you’ve never grown basil, or smelled basil, or tasted it, or cooked with basil - I want to introduce you to it. I’d love it if someday you look back and say - " yeah, that Basilmania episode on Still Growing - that’s what made me want to give basil a try."

If you're an experienced basil gardener, you also it because I take you through some of the fantastic varieties of basil - just know that there are over a hundred - (and I give you some ideas for what you can do with them). From a growing standpoint, I share how to grow it from seed, how to propagate it (it’s so easy - it's insane), offer some essential cultivation tips, and provide answers to some common questions about problems folks can have growing basil. I also tell you about harvesting and storing all of your green gold - your basil leaves. And then I wrap up with my favorite part of growing basil - eating it. I’ll share my pesto tips and give you some pretty amazing recipes that may or may not incorporate pesto. Whew!

So, check it out on my blog or your favorite podcast player search for the word Basilmania (SG573), and the Still Growing podcast episode should pop right up.

 


Brevities

#OTD It's the birthday of Benning Wentworth, who was born on this day in 1696.

Wentworth was the colonial governor of New Hampshire from 1741 to 1766.

Wentworth is vital to North American gardeners because he brought the lilac along with other trees and shrubs when he immigrated to America from England.

In 1750, the first lilac was planted at the Wentworth home. In 1919, it was adopted as the New Hampshire State Flower because lawmakers felt it was,

"symbolic of the hardy character of the men and women of New Hampshire; the granite state."


#OTD It's the birthday of the man who created the Missouri Botanical Gardens, also known as "Shaw's Garden," or "Hank's Garden" - I'm talking about none other than the great Henry Shaw who was born on this day in 1800.

Shaw is easily in the top ten of any list of great American botanical philanthropists.
Shaw is commemorated on the St. Louis Walk of Fame with this epitaph:

Shaw is celebrated on the St. Louis Walk of Fame with this epitaph:

"Henry Shaw, only 18 when he came to St. Louis, was one of the city’s largest landowners by age 40. Working with leading botanists, he planned, funded and built the Missouri Botanical Garden, which opened in 1859. Shaw donated the land for Tower Grove Park and helped with its construction. He wrote botanical tracts, endowed Washington University’s School of Botany, helped found the Missouri Historical Society, and gave the city a school and land for a hospital. Of Shaw’s gifts, the Botanical Garden is best-known. Said as early as 1868 to have “no equal in the United States, and, indeed, few anywhere in the world."

In addition to the Botanical Garden, Shaw built the Linnean House in 1882. It is the oldest continuously operated public greenhouse west of the Mississippi River and was initially designed to be an orangery, a place to overwinter citrus trees, palms, and tree ferns.

And, there's a little story I love that reveals Shaw's regard for the plants in his garden.

It was posted in the St. Louis Star and Times on April 5, 1933:

"Mr. Shaw was escorting a lady through his gardens, pointing out objects of interest.

The visitor said: " I cannot understand, Sir, how you are able to remember all of these difficult names."

He replied, with a courtly bow, "Madame, did you ever know a mother to forget the names of her children? These plants and flowers are my little ones."

 

 

#OTD Today, in 1938, The Miami News published an article with the title "Tropical Peas Will Mitigate Relief Wants."

The article begins this way,

"If English peas don't suit your palate, plant pigeon peas. The suggestion is that of a Miami pioneer, Charles F. Sulzner, who through the years has pointed out to newcomers the advantages of growing tropical fruits and vegetables, often of a type requiring no painstaking cultivation...
Pigeon peas, as Sulzner demonstrated in his spacious grounds at 236 S. W. Second St grow on trees, and may be had by the simple process of picking."

Pigeon peas make a lovely and distinct addition to the edible garden.

The cultivation of the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), can be traced back more than 3,500 years. Other common names include Congo pea, Angola pea, and red gram. In Barbados, pigeon pea was used to feed pigeons.

Gardeners who love growing peas in the spring may thoroughly enjoy growing pigeon pea in the summer. It's a hardy perennial that can produce multiple harvests during the season.

The sweet, fresh green peas are technically beans. They can be eaten raw when green or dried. The dried beans need to be soaked before boiling.

Pigeon peas have a nutty taste and crisp texture. The entire pod may be eaten.

As a bonus, the yellow-red flowers attract flocks of hummingbirds, and the plants are also nitrogen-fixers and enrich the soil.

 


Unearthed Words

Here's a poem from John Clare called July:

"Loud is the summer's busy song
The smallest breeze can find a tongue,
While insects of each tiny size
Grow teasing with their melodies,
Till noon burns with its blistering breath
Around, and day lies still as death."

 


Today's book recommendation: Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes Hardcover by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West

Rainer and West offer influential voices in ecological landscape design.

The book is about how plants fit together in the wild and how we can use that understanding in garden design and plantings. The benefits of this kind of planting method are much more management and less maintenance in addition to more diversity and density in our plantings.

Rainer and West have grown increasingly frustrated by the fact that traditional horticultural plantings really didn’t provide the set of tools to give clients ecosystems that also offer year-round beauty.

By keying in on the way plants behave in the wild, grasping concepts like density and diversity, the authors believe they have extracted some design principles and real-world solutions for gardeners.

 


Today's Garden Chore

Try designing a Clock Garden.

The floral clock garden originated with Linnaeus, an 18th-century Swedish botanist. He hypothesized that flowers could predict time-based on when they opened and closed.

You could make your clock garden much more straightforward by creating wedges based on color or by season: spring, summer, and fall bloomers.


Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1975, the Green Bay Press-Gazette shared a little notice for their "Dial-A-Garden-Tipline."

Readers could dial the number at any time and hear a taped garden message. Here were the topics posted in the paper:

July 17 Russian olive diseases.
July 18, 19, 20 Dutch elm disease.
July 21 How to blanch vegetables.
July 22 Growing cauliflower.
Julu 23 Birch borer.
July 24 Training young trees.

 

 

 


Thanks for listening to the daily gardener,
and remember:
"For a happy, healthy life, garden every day."

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