Thursday, November 7, 2013

And so Autumn came...maybe?

Welcome back to Lost In the Farmer’s Market. This is a replacement episode, to cover the lack of a post last week. As some of you have heard I am enrolled at NC A&T and at times the requirement to write large papers eats up time or drains my ability to write much else due to deadlines. That said I had to write a few papers with due dates all falling in the same week so the post just never made it up here. Without further delay today’s topic is all about the basils that were included in the test gardens this year.

Now honestly I can’t say a single basil specimen failed this year as all of them did well and some from last year even returned from seed which is a double bonus. However a few species did outshine the rest and they deserve special note. So let’s start with the list of basil species and their relative performance.

Blue African Basil

‘BAB’ is probably one of my long-standing favorites as I grew it every year when the test garden was in New Jersey. As far as flavor, BAB has more of a anise-camphor flavor making it good for a finishing flavor-garnish. But more so BAB pesto is quite the flavor experience with reduced amounts of garlic and extra parmesan or romano grated cheese. But best thing about BAB is the blue-purple leaf variations and the sheer amount of nectar producing blooms which can help feed a large number of pollinators and humming birds. Lastly the plant is drought tough once established and should be deemed a tender perennial in some circumstances. In short blue African basil was the largest basil in the garden at the end of the growing season.

Genovese Sweet Basil

GSB is one of those sweet basil hybrids with such good all-around characteristics that it flatly replaces normal basil and typical large leaf sweet basil for pesto and seasoning use. The two specimens in the garden grew to about two feet tall not counting flower spikes in large quart nursery pots and produced ample amounts of leaves for culinary use. I would easily declare this selection the best sweet basil I’ve grown to date due to its tolerant habits and more so by the end of the season it had sown its seed itself in other pots so its seedlings were brought in last month and repotted for next year. You can get this species from Botanical Interests as GMO-free seed for about two dollars.

Pesto Purpetuo Basil

PPB was the test species this year. I picked it because it’s a species that does not flower and is apparently a cross between Ocimum basilicum and O. citriodorum. The plants are upright, and roughly column shaped and bear smaller leaves that have white variegation. They suffered no disease issues and grew to an overall height of about three feet when planted in the ground without regular irrigation. In terms of flavor it was more like a plain basil with just a touch of anise making it pleasant for general use. I would plant mor of this in a heartbeat next year but certainly not more than the actual flowering types.

Red Rubin Basil

Red Rubin is an heirloom classic, as one of the earliest ‘red-purple’ basil types it does not hold color in supper heat or full sun but does have all the sweet basil flavor with additional foliage color. The most interesting trait of this basil is it’s habit for randomly reverting to a normal green color in unpredictable ways. One branch might go straight green while another might have purple freckles on green or   some odd half & half mix. Sometimes the leaves are intense purple and other times they are this violet-red color but all in all it is still a nice basil and worth growing just for what it might do and for making some downright unruly pesto!

Thai Basil

Sometimes called Siam Thai Queen Basil under cultivation Thai basil has a strong anise-flavor that is non-bitter. The leaves are tinted where they meet stems with a deep red and the stems themselves also retain the color. Overall the plants are self-heading as they reach a height, flower and stop getting any taller. Fortunately Thai basil is drought immune once established and provides nectar to pollinators making it very worthwhile to grow. I first encountered this species in Canada back in the 90’s when it had just been introduced to garden centers and have grown it at every opportunity since. It’s a yearly regular much like blue African and will continue to be so. I might add Siam seedlings volunteered in the garden this year so, double bonus for the plant being self-sown.

But enough about basil, this week end as with every Saturday until I run out of plants or Sustainable neighbors stops maintaining a table at the market I will be at the Fayetteville City/Farmers market on Saturday. The Fayetteville farmer’s market is located at 325 Franklin Street on the property of the Fayetteville transportation museum. The market runs between the hours 9:00 am and 1:00 pm and you can find my both over by the art studio side of the market. As always the plant list for this week is below:

7x Spineless Prickly Pear

Salad & Fixings:
3x Black Seeded Simpson Lettuce
2x Cilantro

Cole Crops:
3x Georgia Collards
6x Morris Heading Cabbage-Collards
3x Stonehead Cabbage
3x Charleston Wakefeild Cabbage
3x Jersey Early Wakefeild Cabbage
2x Savoy Cabbage
3x Mustard-Spinach ‘Senposai’
3x Napa Cabbage

Available Soon:
00x Swiss Chard

This of course concludes this belated post that was due last week. The plant list above is current and the post intended for this week will be posted on Sunday. Remember folks, if the weather holds you can still get plants in the ground as late as the end of November with no ill effects. That aside we have a good three weeks of safe planting time roughly to fill those beds with winter crops so don’t delay get those plants in today!

Rain report
Last Week: Average Precipitation of 0.7 inches.
This Week: Average precipitation of 0.2 inches.

As always folks, Keep ‘em growing!

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