Basil: The king of herbs
By Randy Hobson
HobsonMug     CITRUS COUNTY --
In the mid to late 1990s, my daughter Veronica and I grew sweet basil and delivered it and other herbs to chefs all over Citrus County. Opening a cooler full of fragrant, fresh-cut basil brought the cook staff flocking from all over the kitchen.
     Used for thousands of years, sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) derives its genus name from the Greek verb meaning "to be fragrant" and its species name from the Greek word for king. Few plants rival basil for its utility in both the kitchen and the landscape.
     Basil's membership in the mint family is apparent with its opposite leaves and square stems. The spicy, clove-like aroma of the leaves is unmistakable. Native to India and Asia, many beautiful and useful varieties of basil are now available including: sweet, lettuce-leaf, green ruffles, bush, lemon, purple ruffles, dark opal and others. These varieties differ notably in color, texture, leaf size, and taste.
basil082014     Basil is best grown from seed. Once plants mature, a supply of the fragrant seed can be harvested and saved for the next year. Seeds can be sown in containers or on the ground.

Photo from UF/IFAS Center for Landscaping and Ecology

     I prefer starting seeds in containers and then gently dividing the seedlings into separate pots. once they have achieved vigorous growth, the young plants can be transplanted into a full sun location. Basil flourishes with the heat and humidity of summer.
     Basil in a landscape can be grown and trimmed as a low hedge particularly useful around other edibles, including tomatoes. Basil is best harvested in the morning as soon as the dew has evaporated. The flowers and buds are edible and pinching off the flower stalks promotes bushy growth.
     Basil has many culinary uses including being the main ingredient in pesto sauce. Basil is a nutritious food, providing a significant amount of vitamins and mineral, especially vitamin K.
     I learned one of the most unique uses for basil from one of our favorite chefs. Veronica and I delivered a supply of fresh herbs to Joe Lange, former executive chef at the Plantation Inn and Resort in Crystal River.
     Chef Lange took several basil leaves, placed them in the deep-fryer basket and plunged them into the hot oil! I expected them to be ruined; instead, they emerged a vibrant, shiny green with a wonderful taste and crisp texture. Chef Lange went on to explain he loved to use the deep-fried basil leaves as a tasty and beautiful garnish to enhance the presentation of his meals.
     When you include basil (the king of herbs) in your edible landscape, there is no limit to the creative uses for this ancient and modern favorite. Happy landscaping and happy eating!
Randy Hobson lives in Citrus County and is a nurseryman and landscaper.  He can be contacted at rhobson4@tampabay.rr.com.

logcabinquilters2By Myrtice Scabarozi © Aug. 19, 2014
 LEVY COUNTY -- The Log Cabin Quilters met Thursday (Aug. 14 31) at the Levy County Quilt Museum -- 11050 N.W. 10th Ave., Chiefland.
     It was a show and tell day. Marie had finished the Christmas wall hanging that had been donated and Ailien came in with two wall hangings. Alice Mae brought in three old crocheted wall hangings that she had done many years ago. The crochet thread that she used isn’t made anymore.
     Marie from Chiefland came out with Evelyn Etheridge and was surprised by all the items in the Museum. We hope she will visit again.
     Greg and the boys from Lancaster were out in spite of the rain. We found inside chores that needed to be done. Next week, the lawn should keep them busy. Thanks Lancaster.
     The first Saturday in October will be Quilt Days at Dudley Farms State Park between Newberry and Gainesville. We will be there as well as some of our old quilts. Make plans to visit Dudley Farms and learn a little about the turn of the century in the early 1900s. We’ll be open that day also.
Quilt263Ailien's Oriental Wall Hanging. Ailien enjoys working on a variety of small quilts.
Ailien's Duck Wall Hanging. It would be perfect in a sportsman's den.

Black bear lessons available

Published Aug. 14, 2014

     FLORIDA -- Giving schoolchildren a chance to learn all about Florida black bears is a great way to teach them about wildlife, while sharpening their skills in reading, math, science and problem solving.
     For that reason, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) has updated its Florida Black Bear Curriculum, and put it online for the first time at BlackBearInfo.com.
     The revised Florida Black Bear Curriculum is free, easy for teachers to use, and meets the new Florida Standards for educational curricula.
     The curriculum offers 10 lessons on topics such as “The Black Bear Necessities” and “Oh Where, Oh Where is the Florida Black Bear?” and includes hands-on activities such as mapping and role-playing. There are also videos for students to watch such as the FWC’s “Living with Florida Black Bears.”
     “The Florida Black Bear Curriculum takes children’s curiosity about black bears into the classroom, where learning about black bears can improve kids’ skills in basics like reading, math, science and problem solving,” said Sarah Barrett with the FWC’s black bear management program. “Whenever FWC staff talks to kids about Florida black bears, the response is overwhelmingly positive because kids are eager to learn and ask great questions about bears.”
     With more encounters today between people and bears in Florida than in the recent past, it is increasingly important for children to learn about the state’s bear population.
     The Florida Black Bear Curriculum was designed for children in grades 3-8 and has been in use since 1999, when it was created as a joint project of the FWC and Defenders of Wildlife.
     Florida teachers who register on the Florida Black Bear Curriculum website can gain access to additional information, particularly in regard to how the material fits the Florida Standards.
     Anyone is welcome to go to BlackBearInfo.com and take advantage of the educational material there.

Zoo management
program offered

Published Aug. 14, 2014

     SUMTER COUNTY --The veterinary staff of the Florida International Teaching Zoo is offering a one year Zoo Animal Management Program beginning Sept. 7.
     The program will consist of academic lectures coupled with hands-on experience with the Teaching Zoo animals. Lectures will be held Sunday nights from 4 to 9 p.m., and Monday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Teaching Zoo classroom located in Bushnell. Lab times will be a minimum one day weekly, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Teaching Zoo and one weekend public tour day per month.
     Lecture topics include zoo management /husbandry aspects of animals from apes to zebras to eagles to snakes to crocodiles to big cats to giraffes. Lectures will cover animal diseases, husbandry, and nutrition, medical treatment, housing/exhibit design, emergency procedures, anesthesia, sanitation, fecal analysis, public management and others. Graduates will receive certification from Florida Teaching Zoo.
     Past graduates are currently employed at zoos, wildlife parks, veterinary clinics, wildlife rescue facilities, circuses, and state wildlife/game departments. The tax deductable tuition fee is $1,000 per term (4 terms per year). Monthly payment plans may be requested at $350 per month.
     Class size is limited to 15 students per year. The staff believe in more hands-on, intensive and personal instruction with “Way Cooler” zoo animals than any other Zoo School.   
     Due to liability and state restrictions, only adults 18 years and older may apply. All applicants must be in good health and free of any zoonotic diseases. Due to the unique nature of work with zoo animals, certain handicap situations are not permissible.  
     Call 352-867-7788 or email drwilsonvet @gmail.com for more information.

Dixie Music has openings
for guitar, keyboard and
vocal students

Published Aug. 7, 2014
DixMus080714     OLD TOWN – Individuals who aspire to play guitar or keyboards, or who want vocal lessons have a golden opportunity now, because Dixie Music Center’s School of Music in Old Town has openings available for lessons.

Dotti and Bob Leichner who are two of the performers in the band known as Dottie South and the Slackers are seen here at a Haven Hospice event from October of 2013.
File Photo

     Dixie Music Center’s School of Music has played a part in the lives of many musicians, and some of the alumni are very talented performers – who gained local, regional and national recognition.
     One local artist who has enjoyed considerable regional success of late, performing from Cedar Key to St Augustine to Jacksonville, is Houston Keen.
     Keen has studied vocal instruction with Bob and Dotti Leichner, the owners of Dixie Music Center.
     Jamey King and Robbie Vanosdol, of the group Steel Bridge and, more recently, Memphis Belle, have been very well received not only throughout the Tri-County Area and Gainesville, but also in Nashville at such noted venues as Tootsie's, Second Fiddle and other "hot spots" on Music City's lower Broadway.
      Both of these fine players began their musical journey with guitar instruction at Dixie Music Center. And then there is the internationally renowned Mercury recording artist whose first two releases went to Number 1 nationwide: Easton Corbin, who also started guitar lessons with Dixie Music Center when he was a teenager.
     The goal need not be to become a famous star. Learning keyboards, guitar and to sing is a fun process in itself. Interested individuals are asked to call Dixie Music Center at 352-542-3001 for more information.

WED.  AUG. 20  11:17 p
Levy, Dixie, Gilchrist counties

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