Genovese Basil is perhaps the most famous sweet basil variety in the world. Known for its use in pesto, the best Genovese Basil is said to be grown in western Genoa, Italy. So, why is Genovese Basil so special? Its round leaves are dark green and appear more matte than those of its shinier cousin, Common Basil. The taste is also more ‘matte’, if that makes sense – the basil flavour is more concentrated and is somehow less sweet. What is certain is that Genoese people take their beloved baxaicò (as they call it) and their pesto very seriously; Genovese Basil has even gained DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) status from the Italian Government.
Latin name: Ocimum basilicum
Variety: Italiano Classico (Genovese)
Plant size: Height 40 cm, Width 20 cm
Container Size: Height 20 cm, Width 20 cm
Sowing: indoors Feb-March, outdoors Apr-June
Timing: germination 5-10 days, harvesting 40-60 days
Spacing: when sowing 1-3cm, when thinning 3-5cm
Growing: full sun to partial shade, regular watering not overdone, well drained light and moist soil, light feeder
Caring: prune this basil early and often by pinching off the upper set of leaves. Cut the flowers off to prevent the leaves becoming bitter
Supporting: attracts bees and butterflies, repels aphids and mosquitos
Harvesting: as fresh basil wilts and loses both its colour and fragrance soon after harvesting, it is best to keep basil in a glass of water and n a cool, dry, dark spot
Medicinal: refreshing and relaxing, basil stimulates appetite and lifts the mod
Eating: add garlic, salt, pine nuts, basil leaves, parmesan cheese, pecorino chees and olive oil to pestle and mortar in this order, pounding them together. Hey presto, that's pesto!
Companion plant: Tomatoes, peppers, oregano, parsley, garlic chives, alpine strawberries