Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Do Snails Love Basil More Than I Do?

hole-y basil
Snails couldn't possibly share the same kind of love I have in my heart for basil. Though by the looks of our plants... they're certainly not shy with their PDA.

After lackluster growth in the past, we decided to put our three basil plants into the ground this year instead of in pots like we usually do. The snails, of course, have been delighted with our decision.

I went to the web in search of chemical-free snail solutions and instead came across some valuable advice regarding growing, pruning, and harvesting basil. I found out two very important things regarding our basil plants... a) we've been doing everything wrong, and... b) it's not too late to fix it!

The very next moment I was out the door with my straw hat and pruning snips in hand. I pruned/harvested all of our basil plants, and now I have a sink full of ugly snail-nibbled basil. You guessed it... it's pesto-time. In fact, it's Big Batch pesto time. I had enough for 2 batches — one for now and one for the freezer.

Basic Basil-Walnut Pesto
(makes about a cup and half) 

8-10 cups of basil
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
4-5 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt
ground pepper

Wash basil leaves and dry in a salad spinner or with dish towels. Fill bowl of 11-cup food processor to the top (loosely packed). Pulse a few times to make a little room, then add the walnuts, cheese, garlic, and a quarter cup of the olive oil. Blend thoroughly. With the machine running, add the rest of the olive oil a little at a time until the pesto is nice and smooth. Taste the pesto and add salt and pepper.

Storing in the fridge or freezer: add a good layer of olive oil over the top to protect it from oxidizing (turning brown). Before using, just stir the oil in or pour off.

Do U <3 Basil 2?
How to harvest it, what to make with it, and even a non-basil pesto (in case you don't <3 basil)...
Now my friends, the snail issue won't go away by itself (sad face)... how am I going to be able to make pretty caprese salads later this summer if my basil keeps getting loved to death by the dang snails? Short of keeping chickens in the yard, does anybody have any good tips for protecting edible plants from hungry slimers?
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