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A hanging ball of basil.

A hanging ball of basil

Its American name is 'Spicy Globe' basil. In Italy, the same plant is known by the bigger name of 'Fino Verde Compatto', and some catalogs list it by the French name, 'Fin Vert'. On either side of the world, it forms a dense 10- to 18-inch-tall mound of 3/4-inch leaves so evenly spaced you'd think the plants had been pruned.

The exact flavor of 'Spicy Globe' is disputed. Some tasters find it very different from regular sweet basil: much more minty, spicy, and sharp. Others use it in place of sweet basil; they say its flavor is as sweet, though perhaps more concentrated.

Seeds of 'Spicy Globe' are available from Le Marche Seeds International, Box 190, Dixon, Calif. 95620 (catalog $2); Seeds Blum, Idaho City Stage, Boise, Idaho 83706 (free price list; catalog $2); or Shepherd's Garden Seeds, 7389 W. Zayante Rd., Felton, Calif. 95018 (catalog $1).

They germinate in five to seven days in warm soil. Separate seedlings and allow them to grow until each can fill a 4-inch pot. The 10-inch hanging basket in the picture above was started with three 4-inch pots. If you grow 'Spicy Globe' in the ground, each plant will eventually assume a 2-foot-diameter rounded shape.

You can also buy 'Spicy Globe' basil already started at many nurseries (plants may be sold as small-leaf basil). A 4-inch pot costs $1 to $1.65.

Photo: Pungent 'Spicy Globe' basil casts spell even faster at nose height. Its leaves are tiny
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Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:May 1, 1988
Words:251
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