In the fall, I stop breaking flower buds off my basil plants and allow them to go to seed, then I pull the plants up and compost them. After several years, I now have a self-seeding crop of thai basil, genovese basil, and the odd purple opal basil plant or two: some pop up directly in the garden beds where the previous year’s plants dropped their tiny progeny, and others spring up wherever I spread compost or leaf mould from my pile.
This fall, I have an especially showy variant flowering right now. It isn’t forming long, slender spikes typical of basils, but instead has branching, bushy, deep-purple flowerheads. The leaves taste spicy, but not as strong as thai basil, with a bitter finish. My crazy basil hybrid gets an A+ for looks, but a C in taste.
I’m not the only one tasting the basil: Gulf fritillary butterflies seem to like all of my basil varieties….