Of course, these are the sort of babies that will get eaten...
I started my first wave of hot-weather seedlings a few days ago, and some are already up. Genovese Basil, a few Pink tomatos, a San Marzano tomato, and a Japanese Black Trifele tomato are peeking up with their wee cotyledons. No sign yet from my various peppers, but they usually take over a week. Nor is there any sign of my 2008 experiment, finocchio.
Finocchio (F. vulgare azoricum) is also called Florence fennel. You eat the bulb. It looks rather like a squashed, rounded head of celery, but with feathery leaves like dill. As the plant grows, you mound dirt around the base to protect the bulb from light so it will blanch. Finocchio likes a very rich growing medium, which I'm sure my worms will be more than happy to provide.
Finocchio is incredibly delicious; it has a vaguely nutty licorice flavor, and when roasted, it turns sort of sweet. I cook it simply- slice, toss with salt and olive oil, and roast it under a broiler. It's outstanding when roasted with sliced potatoes.
Last summer, my husband and I discovered an abiding passion for basil pesto. I've eaten it with disregard and without complaint; I've never loved the stuff. Then I read that basil TYPE makes a big difference in the pesto. In retrospect, that finding was a big, fat no duh.
So far, Genovese basil is our favorite for pesto. It has enormous leaves, easy to chop. The leaves have a savory, smoky flavor, and not much of that peppery taste found in Thai basil (which I don't care for at all). We ate so much of the Genovese pesto last year, by the end of August we were actually sick of it. This year, I will probably attempt to oil-preserve some, even though I find the commercial bottled stuff truly vile.
For me now, basil pesto is the embodiment of seasonal food; it's the food you pine for in deep winter and grow to hate by late summer. In other words, food bliss.