Herbs > Basil Herb

Reader q&a on basil problems:

Seeds
Buy Basil Seeds (Over 20 varieties of both Organic and Non-Organic seeds) from The Green Chronicle (Pay in £, $US, Euro).
Herbs, Seasonings. Seeds and Spices - Buy Basil from Mountain Rose Herbs ($US).

General Information
See our page on Basil.


Question

Help!
Scouring the web to see if I can get any advice on how to get rid of whatever it is that is eating holes in my basil leaves. I plant in NYC in a backyard. Would dearly love some suggestions.
Thanks!


The Green Chronicle replies...

Hi,
I've got to say that I have never grown basil outside without huge pest problems. If it is not slugs that are damaging your basil then I suggest using cloches of some kind to create a physical barrier against the pests - these could be horticultural fleece, or plastic or glass. Keep the plants well watered if they are cloched of course. I suggest making sure that you are not just suffering from slug attacks, if you are then try picking them off, failing that you might try nematodes - a biological control - to create a slug free zone around your plants, these should be available through good organic gardening catalogues. Finally I would propose that you grow your basil under cover from now on. You still have time for a last sowing this year, and of course this in itself is a good response to pests: sow every fortnight throughout the growing season, and you'll keep your supply of basil going whatever the pests do.
Good luck,
Paul


Question

I planted basil plants five days ago in my front garden, and they are going great, except that this morning I noticed that the leaves have been bug eaten in spots on most of the plants. Do you know of any bugs that would be eating my basil? And do you know of a natural, non-chemical way to control this?


The Green Chronicle replies...

Slugs love basil, they would be my prime suspect. There are a number of anti-slug measures you could take. You could try grit at the bases of the plants; soil level beer traps; bran around the base of the plants; copper taping around the plant pot etc. Probably the most effective in the long term would be to improve the bio-diversity of your garden: try a pond to attract frogs; frogs eat slugs. It may sound a little silly, but go out after dark with a torch and try to catch the culprit in the act. If there are slugs then picking them off is a quick way to even up the odds for your basil plants. If we are not talking slugs then pests can still be picked off and disposed of; in the meantime you will have identified your pest. There are few growers that I know who are lucky enough to be able to grow basil outside without major pest problems. In the long run it might be that you need to grow basil under protection and use the space outside for something less attractive to slugs.


Question

I planted some basil seeds indoors about a month ago. We have been keeping them well watered and in direct sunlight as much as possible. They have grown to be about an inch tall. Yesterday, we set the pots outside in the sun and all the plants wilted and now look as if they are going to die.
What have we done wrong?


The Green Chronicle replies...

Okay, it sounds as if you were doing fine up to a point. I don't know what the weather was like when you put them outside, but two things might have happened: firstly it might have been too much of a sudden change in temperature for the little plants, or secondly, and I think more likely, they suffered from sudden exposure to drying conditions, perhaps a breeze and the sun left them dry enough to wilt. If the seedlings had relatively shallow roots then drying of the soil surface might have been enough for a dramatic effect. They might be salvageable if you take them in and water them well, but the bad news is that basil doesn't like to suffer a check like this, and even if it lives it might decide to flower prematurely as soon as it can. In any event, and whatever caused the failure, basil can be sown successionally right through to the end of summer, so don't despair, get some more seeds in compost and keep it warm and watered inside until it is 120mm tall at least before risking it outside. The most important factor in growing basil successfully is to keep it watered correctly - keep the growing medium moist, but not sodden. Good luck with your basil, it is well worth persevering.

If you have any questions on Basil, e-mail us and we may be able to help!