Basil

Grow it: This sweet, fragrant annual is ideal for growing in pots. Pull off the white flowers as soon as they appear to keep it from going to seed and your herbs from tasting bitter.

When growing it in the garden, cut off the top third of the plant when it's getting ready to bloom.

Snip off longer branches and root in water, then transfer to a pot with good soil.

Bring in a pot or two to overwinter indoors.

* Companion Planting: grow with tomatoes to make them sweeter

Use it:

*Medicinal: Rub crushed leaves on your temples to relieve headaches. Pour boiling water over basil leaves for a pain-relieving footbath.

*Culinary: enhances the flavor of tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. It is great in spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and ratatouille. It’s also excellent for fish or meat dishes, combining well with lemon thyme, parsley, chives, or garlic. Try it in stir-fries or in vegetable casserole dishes. Fresh basil leaves are delicious in salads. Try the lemon-and lime-scented cultivars in fresh fruit salads and compotes. Basil is also a staple ingredient in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine; cultivars such as ‘Siam Queen’ give the most authentic flavor to these dishes. Basil vinegars are good for salad dressings; those made with purple basils are colorful as well as tasty.

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Basil Lemonade