Grow Tulsi: The Super-power Salad Herb

grow-tulsi

Growing tulsi (holy basil) is super-easy!

About two years ago, I joined a community garden and planted a 4-foot by 8-foot plot. A friend has a local nursery, so I picked up some plants to get started and used seeds for the rest. One of the plants I purchased was a goji berry bush. To be honest, I am not the best community gardener. I have problems incorporating regular visits to the garden into my weekly schedule.

Getting Everything Planted

A few weeks after I got everything planted, I noticed another plant growing like crazy next to my goji berry bush. I tried to cut it back, so the goji would have room to grow.

The leaves tasted like a spicy mint that was very pleasant.

The Takeover

As the weeks went by, this crazy plant literally took over and smothered the goji berry bush.

Every time I would go to my plot, I would cut it back. It didn’t work. Then, it started to flower. It had tiny whitish purple flowers on a long stalk. I brought a few of the flowers home so I could research and identify the plant.

Have you seen this article on how to identify plants.

It turned out to be holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum).

When I harvested my garden plot, I decided to bring the tulsi home to see if it would grow. It lasted a while with a lot of flowers. Then it died completely, or so it seemed. The tub was on my front porch and left there throughout the winter.

Annual Revisits

When the weather started to warm again, I saw the green leaves of the tulsi start to sprout out of the soil in the tub.

The Harvest

We have been harvesting tulsi for the last eight months. It is delicious in our salads. It adds a spicy, mint flavor similar to regular basil.

The Many Benefits of Tulsi

In India, people have been growing Tulsi for its medicinal properties for more than 3,000 years. Holy basil is considered a sacred plant in Hinduism.

In traditional medicine, Tulsi is used for:

  • Stress
  • Digestive problems
  • Treating colds and fevers
  • Treating allergies & infections
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Treating hair and skin disorders
  • Dental health
  • Repelling insects and treating insect bites

Tulsi is very important in Ayurveda and naturopathy, because the plant is loaded with antioxidants, phytonutrients, essential oils, and vitamins A and C, which have been known to help manage diabetes and high blood pressure. If you use a few tulsi leaves regularly, it will help the body function properly.

It is known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It is considered an adaptogen, (a substance that helps the body adapt and function optimally).

Besides adding it to salads, the leaves are easy-to-make into a tea.

Add it to your garden

There are more than 100 varieties of Tulsi. If you have a warm, sunny place in your garden or on your porch or windowsill, consider adding a tulsi plant. It is perfect in a container garden with other sun-loving herbs. It is easy-to-grow and requires very little care.

In the late spring or early summer, when the temperatures in your area are around 70°F, sow seeds outdoors. If you want an early start, sow the seeds indoors in a sunny window.

Put the tulsi seeds on top of the soil and lightly press down for soil contact. Spray the seeds with water or compost tea. Keep the soil moist until the seeds germinate in about 1 to 2 weeks.

Pinch the top of the tulsi plant when there are four to six pairs of leaves for a bushier plant.

Harvest Tulsi

Harvest the tulsi leaves throughout the growing season. As the plant gets bigger, use a pair of scissors to cut the larger leaves or cut an entire branch.

Use the fresh leaves the same day, or they will fade. Or dry the leaves by collecting the branches. Place them in a dry place away from direct sunlight. Move the stems around about three times each day until the leaves are crisp and easily crushed.

 

Do you have tulsi in your garden? How do you use it? Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Karen the Newbie Homesteader


Contributor

Karen the Newbie Homesteader is a novice gardener, homesteader, and permaculturist. She and her husband recently purchased four acres in central Florida to create their homestead and grow their own food. She will be sharing their adventures: successes, failures, and everything in between - here at The Grow Network.


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11 Comments
  • You never mentioned what you eat! Do you eat both the leaves & flowers or either one?

    • Karen the Newbie Homesteader

      Connie, we just eat the leaves. The stalks and flowers are too tough to put in salads.

  • Sorry Karen! I just saw it…leaves of course!

  • I use tulsi every day.I put 11 leaves in making my morning tea.We in India have it all the year round.Some years when it is extremely cold it dies out.,out but when spring comes the seeds which fall off after flowering,sprout again.The leaves,as well as the seeds are harvested to be used in medicinal preparations.

  • jackie Seward

    Nothing works as well as tulsi to take the sting out of any insect bite. Wad up a couple of leaves and rub into bite. A few years back a visiting friend was stung by a huge bee & she shreiked “I’m deathly allergic !!” We had the bite tamed down in a matter of minutes. The people of India believed that tulsi cleared the air in one’s home of bacteria etc. They had large pots they kept on their porches and brought them inside to the bedrooms at night. It’s Texas hardy and reseeds itself generously.

  • Isobelle

    I do have Tulsi in my garden. I thrives, with very little attention. I have found that if you trim the flowers down then the leaves grow larger. I do not trim all of the flowers – leave some for the bees as they seem to enjoy harvesting necter from the flowers.

    I use this Basil in preference to the other one not only in salads but in stews, soups, scrambled eggs and also in any tomato dishes.

  • Victoria Lou

    I keep Tulsa by my front door and pick a couple of leaves as I go out and chew on them for the medicinal qualities and also to sweeten the breath.

  • s

    Where can I get the seeds for Holy Basil?

    • Karen the Newbie Homesteader

      You can find organic tulsi seeds to purchase on Amazon. I’m sure there are many distributors for this popular plant’s seeds.

  • Ann

    Is there a cold-hardy variety or should it be taken inside for northern winters?

    • Karen the Newbie Homesteader

      Tulsi really thrives in warmer weather, but if it is growing in a container, you can bring it inside and put it in a window that gets plenty of sun.

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