Rainy Day at the Asheville Herb Festival 
6" of rainin three days
Despite huge rain and flood warnings the 24th Asheville Spring Herb Festival went on at the Asheville Farmers Market.
There was a good size crowd

and 60 herb growers from the Carolinas and Tennessee.
   The most interesting plant variety we ran across was Napolitano ( I believe the label in the picture is spelled incorrectly) Basil Ocimum ( also called Italian large-leaf basil). It  is said to be the best variety for pesto. The large leaves can be harvested all summer long growing to 2 feet tall and 18 inches wide. We Came up with the idea of making basil wraps.
     Basil is truly an incredible herb. It is enjoyed for its rich and spicy, mildly peppery flavor with a trace of mint and clove. Basil is an annual herb belonging to the mint family, Lamiaceae (Labiatae) and like others in this family, basil can be identified by its square, hairy stems. There are over 40 known varieties of basil of which Ocimum basilicum or Sweet Basil is the most commonly known and grown. Ocimum is from a Greek verb that means "to be fragrant." The foliage is easily bruised; just brushing against its foliage releases its wonderfully spicy fragrance. Varieties can grow to a height of 2 1/2 feet and are about as wide. Foliage colors range from pale to deep green, vivid purple and even purple laced with goldish yellow foliage. Texture varies from silky and shiny to dull and crinkly. Flowers appear in summer as whorls on the ends of branches and are either white or lavender. Some of the unusual fragrances and flavors include: cinnamon, lemon and anise. Basil is native to India and Asia having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. Being a member of the mint family, it is not surprising to see it recommended for digestive complaints. So instead of an after dinner mint, try sipping an after dinner cup of basil tea to aid digestion and dispel flatulence. Herbalists have recommended basil for years for stomach cramps, vomiting and constipation. Basil has been described as having a slight sedative action, which would explain why it is sometimes recommended for headaches and anxiety.
Another good basil we saw was  Ocimum basilicum
"boxwood"  boxwood basil.  This variety has small leaves and is ideal for edging.
For more information about the festival check out http://www.ashevilleherbfestival.com/festivalinfo.htm.

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JOHN McCarley

PO Box 524
Cashiers, North Carolina 28717
United States


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