A Journey to Grow a Little Food Close to Home

Friday, September 3, 2010

Basil Problems - a reader question

My wife told me that one of her friends who was reading the blog the other day had a question about her basil. It seems that as hard as she tries, every year her basil turns yellow and dies. She wonders why and what she can do about it. To find the answer, I think we'll have to think like a plant for a minute!

It is importnant to note that basil comes from countries that surround the Mediterranean. There are three main components to the climate there - warmth, lots of sun, and easy-draining soil. The warmth I think that we have taken care of in Wisconsin summers. That leaves sun and well-drained soil. So...if we were to think like a plant, waht would we need to be happy? To begin with, be sure that basil is always located in an area with LOTS of sun. Then, make sure that the soil doesn't hold water. If basil is planted in the ground and that ground has a lot of clay, water will stay close to the plant for too long. Basically, the plant will be drowning and will look like this!

One easy fix - plant basil in a pot with a good quality potting mix. Let the soild dry a little after each watering (in other words...don't keep it moist). Be sure to keep the pot in the sun. If you do that, you might just get this:

A rule of thumb - if the plant turns yellow and dies - too much water. If it turns brown and dies - too little water.

If you ever have too much basil (under the right conditions, basil grows like a weed!) you could always make pesto and freeze it!

Thanks for the question - keep em coming!

I noticed something this morning before work that really let me know that autumn is on the way - a flock of geese migrating in a perfect 'V.' It kinda made me say 'awww' as I though of the change from the muggy summer to the crisp autumn that we're about to experience. And...get this...only 16 weeks 'til Christmas!!

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