Tomato & Basil: Two Things You Should Grow This Summer, If You Don’t Grow Anything Else
Summer is now springing into form in the US, although the general succession of world events might lead one to believe the season has been filtered through the lens of an alternate reality.
Pandemic, paparazzi shots of celebrities with their faces shrouded by cloth masks, social change that could lead to something better… there’s never been a time quite like this. Things are evolving every day, but one aspect of summer does remain the same — gardening.
Gardening is one of my most favorite parts of summer, a rewarding time of learning and growth and possibility.
Many people, however, find that summer is not a time where things slow down enough to have time to do things like garden. Even I, working a full-time work schedule with little time off in the summer, find that it is hard to make time to tend to my garden, although I would say my interest in the hobby is excessive enough to make time for it every day.
But, for those who don’t have much time or the means to cultivate a full-spread garden, there are a few plants that I believe are ultimately worth growing every summer.
Tomato and Basil — Summer’s Super-Crops
What I love about growing tomato and basil is the ease of it. It’s extremely easy to sprout basil seeds in your windowsill and transplant them to a pot outside where they can grow bushy and thrive. Similarly, a tomato plant is simple enough to care for once it starts to fruit.
And if you can’t grow from seed or find it too difficult, you can often find both of these plants for a bargain at a garden or home improvement store. Sometimes, garden sections of these stores will even offer clearance prices on certain tomato plants during different parts of the summer, or they’ll regrow cuttings and sell those plants for cheap.
A well-cared-for tomato plant is super productive in the summer — especially cherry tomato varieties, which produce many more tomatoes per plant than bigger tomato varieties do.
And if you prune basil plants throughout the summer, you ensure that they keep producing quickly.
What’s great about both of these plants is that they go so well together, and you often need only add 1 or 2 more ingredients with them to make something that tastes great.
Tomato and basil is a classic Italian combo, and there is so much possibility when you put the two together.
Common Tomato and Basil Recipes
One of my favorite tomato and basil combos that you can easily make a snack out of is caprese salad. It’s super simple to make, and the flavor combination is so rich and fresh in summer.
All you need is fresh basil (preferably green basil), tomatoes (I like to use cherry tomatoes), fresh mozzarella cheese, olive oil, and some salt and pepper to taste. Simple slice the tomatoes and cheese, and lay the ingredients out on a plate. You can drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and/or pepper on top to give extra taste since the cheese is quite mild.
It’s super fresh, requires no cooking, and can be made just minutes after picking the tomato and basil. You can also add some bruschetta chips or garlic bread to this dish to make it more filling.
I also am a big fan of fresh pizza, and tomato and basil are some of the most basic ingredients of pizza. This basically requires the same ingredients as caprese salad, just topped on your pizza crust of choice. You’ll also want to add some tomato sauce or pizza sauce as you usually would.
My Favorite Tomato and Basil Plant Varieties
My favorite tomato to grow is the Super Sweet 100 Variety of Cherry Tomatoes. This plant is super fruitful (hence the 100 in its name) and grows tall all summer long.
When it comes to basil, I like to stick to a simple sweet or Genovese basil. This is great for the above dishes and also for making pesto.
You can also grow sweet Thai basil for a slightly different flavor and high-yielding plant.
If you don’t grow anything else this summer, consider growing this delicious combo. Tomato and basil are highly rewarding plants to grow — not to mention, it’s so fun watching them along their growing journeys, providing you with a little bite to eat almost every day.