On the grocery store herb rack there is one variety of basil. This might lead a person to think only one basil variety exists.
The herb pages in seed catalogs might disillusion the prospective gardener, if that one looks at these pages. I rarely do.
A friend gave me a purple opal basil plant one year. It was interesting to grow.
The local market has a greenhouse set up for another local company to display transplants in every spring. I browse the shelves simply because I like to see what is available.
I raise my own seedlings or try to every spring. They get a late start due to temperature and light challenges so are never as big as those transplants. However I get to raise the varieties I want to grow instead of the standard ones available.
By the end of May most people in my area have put in their gardens. The past few years they’ve done this twice due to late frosts. My seedlings get a chance to catch up in the house safe from such weather vagaries.
Some transplants are left behind and put on drastic sale. This year those leftovers included six varieties of basil. I succumbed to temptation.
My tomatoes are now accompanied by six varieties of basil: Mammoth or sweet basil; Purple Opal basil; Siam Basil; Cinnamon basil; Genovese basil; and Lemon basil. What I will do with such a basil variety in my kitchen, I’m not sure.
In the meantime the plants are big and healthy. They are blooming. (I know I should harvest the leaves before the plants bloom, but everything is behind this year. I will pinch them back and get them to branch out again.)
All of the varieties have a typical leaf shape, although the size varies. Their coloring varies.
Now I need six paper bags. Why? Each basil variety will go in a labeled bag, closed and put in the refrigerator to dry. This method works very well.