Bay

aka sweet Basil, Bay Laurel or Laurus nobilis

Not to be confused with Californian, Indian, Indonesian, West Indian or Mexican bay leaves, which are all different plants. Other members of the laurel family (mountain & cherry laurel) have leaves poisonous to humans & cattle. Bay laurel is safe, although usually removed from the pot before serving, because it doesn’t break down and is difficult to eat.

Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying.

Planted in the ground, Bay will grow up to 8m as a tree or shrub. It does tend to sucker and spread when it gets older. If this is a problem, you can easily grow them in a container. As with all potted plants, they will require more watering in summer. Popular as topiary – they can be trimmed into any shape including balls, pyramids, animals or pleached. They are fairly hardy, although they can be prone to thrips (which are hard to control organically) if planted in a too sheltered spot. If in a pot, simply move out into the open, where the bugs don’t like to be.

Another good use is to scatter dried leaves in the pantry to repel meal moths (the little ones which fly out of your open flour, oats etc  packets), flies, roaches, mites and silverfish. They also contain many nutritional and medicinal properties which are outlined in this page http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/bay-leaf.html