Holy Basil

Here is a confession:  I haven’t always been an herb grower.  Sure, I grew herbs along with everything else.  Proven Winner Annuals, perennials, succulents, foliage plants, bulbs … you name it, I grew it.  We had a garden center in Richmond, VA and my customer base was my guide.  Whatever they wanted, I grew.  Or, was it the other way around?  Whatever I grew, they wanted?  We had a very good relationship, my customers and I.  It was truly an EXCHANGE.

But, in 2005, when I decided to close the store, my intention was to take EVERYTHING online.  I would keep growing as I had been since 1985.  Guess what?  Everyone else had the same idea.  There were plenty of folks growing and selling perennials online.  I just had to get in line.  It didn’t take me long, with the help of Google, to realize that what folks REALLY wanted was a quality herb grower.  I had grown herbs all along, and actually loved growing them.  But, here was my chance.  I could begin growing MORE than the ‘usual suspects’;  I was a kid in a candy shop.  Send me the seeds, and I will grow them.

So, the unintended consequence?  Enter some of the ‘unusual suspects’ with a BIG following.  Among the most important?

Holy Basil

This was one of those eye opening experiences ~ I began growing two types, Holy Red and Holy Green.  I was getting seeds from a variety of vendors, but that was my first mistake.  What was I really growing?  Among my first customer was a wonderful grower from Texas.  She was Hindu, and she educated me right away: ‘this is not Holy Basil’!  Well, it said so on the seed package.  My education began.

Getting it right:  What we needed was to grow the true ‘Holy Basil’ or Tulsi Basil.  Ocimum sanctum is a member of the Labiateae family, and the seeds were not easy to come by, nor was this an easy plant to grow.  Hard to germinate and slow to grow.  After some extensive research, we found a reliable source for reliable seeds.  Still a germination challenge, but once it is ‘up’ it is an easy plant to grow and we grow A LOT of it.

We have learned a lot about this plant, and most of our knowledge has come from our customers.  This plant is very important to Hindus, having been described as DEVI (goddess) in Hindu scriptures.  In day to day life, Hindus consider it one of the most sacred plants and every year, there are many religious occasions connected with holy basil.

Thanks to our first Holy Basil customer, we were able to become the top supplier of the RIGHT herb (just as Google Analytics!) and it is among our ‘top ten’ each year.  It has been interesting to follow the demand over the years, and even notice the relationships between buyers.  A friend tells a friend, and all of a sudden, we are shipping a lot of that plant to a particular zip code in a particular state.

In addition to religious importance, Tulsi is considered a medicinal herb used to remedy many common disorders.  The extract is used for stomach issues, headaches, and even heart problems.  Here is where I need to interject my ‘but phrase’:  before using any herb for medical issues, please consult your physician!  There, I said it.  Oh, and the juice of the plant has been used to remedy the common earache.

Our relationship with ‘Holy Basil’ is an example of why I love what I do ~ prior to 2005, I didn’t know anything about ‘Holy Basil’.  Fast forward 10 years and I’ve become among the top grower of this very important and useful herb.  Way to go, Web!

More Information If You Are Interested:  we love to know more than we need to know.  Here is a summary of an article written for Rare Seeds by Dr. C. Parmar.  According to Aryan myth, there was a woman devotee of Lord Vishnu.  Her name was Tulsi, and she desired Vishnu to become her husband.  She prayed … Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, became jealous and used her power to change the woman into a plant.  Vishnu was impressed by the devotion of Tulsi, and assumed the form of Ammonite stone and pledged to be her consort forever.  The plant and stone are married every year, and this celebration is joyously celebrated in Hindu homes usually in the month of November.