Save the Basil – Tips for a Bountiful Harvest

Save the basil

 

Love Me Some Basil!

This summer our garden seems to be doing fairly well with the exception of our tomatoes. Our herbs on the other hand, not so much. I’ve struggled with Basil for the last two seasons and it happens to be my favorite and most used herb. 

No Green Thumb Needed?

This summer, just like last, our Basil started out fantastic! It had lush deep green leaves, plenty of buds sprouting and growing very fast. July hits and bam, the base starts turning brown and the leaves begin to turn yellow. Come on! This is supposed to be an easy to grow herb, right? 

I Might Have Been Wrong…

Well, in a desperate attempt to save my herby friends, I water them constantly. Really, no exaggeration, morning and evening. Finally, rather than assume they must just need water, I got my act together and did some research.  I discovered that the real reason for the color change was over watering, oops!

Learn from my mistakes.

So you don’t have to struggle to keep your Basil happy like I did, here’s a list I put together of tips based on symptoms:

Yellow Leaves:

This most likely means you are overwatering your poor Basil.

What should you do:

  • Make sure the soil is well drained.
  • Only water when the top layer of soil is dry and crumbly.
  • Direct sunlight is the best, the more sun the better.

Brown Leaves:

This most likely means you are underwatering your poor Basil and may also be suffering from a sunburn.

What should you do:

  • Make sure the soil is well drained.
  • Water when the top layer of soil is dry and cracked. Morning watering is best.
  • Direct sunlight is the best, just be sure the soil is being watered when the top layer is dry.

Black Spots:

This could be a few things. The most common possibility is a drastic temperature drop or frost. Another possibility is a nutrition deficiency (yes, even plants need their vitamins apparently!). A last and less common possibility is a Fungal infection. While this seems pretty gross, it is a problem Basil can suffer from but many times will self-treats after the affected leaves are removed. 

What should you do:

  • Remove affected leaves.
  • Cover and preserve basil from end of season cold weather. A hoop tents are a very popular way to do this.
  • Nitrogen is the devil! Organic compost soil mixtures are best to use if you want your Basil to really thrive. 
  • Use a baking soda and water mixture to naturally treat fungal infections that linger.

One last note…

Harvesting the leaves should be done in late morning or before the afternoon heat kicks up. The best way to remove the leaves is by pinching or cutting each stem just above the second set of leaves. If you just start pulling it won’t promote new growth and you may end up with very thin Basil plant.

Hopefully, you will put this info to good use and be successful growing happy and healthy Basil. Heres to a bountiful harvest!

 

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