I normally buy commercial plants for the garden, but this year I decided to
start some herbs from seed. Most of these were for my indoors herb garden
(most of which I lost when the neighbor feeding the cats while we were on
vacation forgot to water the houseplants), but I put a little parsley and a
little basil seedling in the outdorrs garden on Saturday.
The parsley looks fine, but something is eating my basil. I assume it's an
insect -- the little leaves are starting to look decidedly lacy.
Is there something I can put on them? Obviously I want to use the basil for
cooking, so most commercially available insecticides are counterindicated.
Should I put in commercially-grown basil? Or start more seedlings and wait
until they are bigger before planting them outdoors?
A couple of points that may be important:
1. Last year I put in a lot of zinnias (commercially produced seedlings)
that had much the same problem. I lost nearly all those plants.
2. I live outside Chicago. Our every-17-year cicada infestation is
starting. Is it possible it's cicadas eating my basil? If so, I'll give up
on basil until the end of the cicada infestation, the end of July or so.
Basil grows pretty fast, so I would recommend re-seeding. I and, I
believe Omelet (another poster), have found that our basil does better
in pots. If nothing else, start in pots and then you can, at least bring
them in at night to keep them from being chewed on.
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (mostly)
I agree with Bill, Anny. Try putting the seeds directly into pots and
place them in a sunny location. Herbs do quite well in pots and
overwinter nicely in a sunny window. I do almost my entire kitchen
garden in tubs and pots (tomatoes, cukes, bush beans, radishes,
lettuces, limas, broccoli, herbs, etc, ) and they usually thrive.
One thing I have found after gardening like this for 25 years, is that
some years there are infestations of something that in other years
just don't seem to be a bother. I guess it just follows population
growth and bust cycles. Add that to the happenstance of certain
veggies doing better one year than the next to due whatever weather
we have, making some types of produce happier than others and you get
the usual confounding and fun that garden brings.
My vegetable garden is organic and I won't use sprays. Once in awhile
a crop of something just doesn't do well, but in general, basil is
pretty hearty. What you may also want to do it get a couple of other
seed varieties of basil and experiment with those, too - in other
words, your basic wide-leafed/Genoa basil may get "et" this year, but
another variety or two may do much better. I usually plant several.
Anny, The pots that I use are about 3 gallon in size (maybe a little
larger). My basil is typically 18" to 2' tall and, that is with only 6
hours of full Sun. Pinch the flowering ends of the basil for pesto and
fill in with as many leaves as you need to complete the recipe. A basil
leaf wrapped around a fresh-from-the-garden tomato is an experience that
everyone should have. Fresh basil and tomatoes gets you half-way to
brochette which makes a healthy hot day meal, with a little lunch meat,
cheese, pepperocini, and olives.
Coloribus gustibus non disputatum (Pavlov would be proud of me.)
Likely not cicadas. I have had problems with slugs eating basil, but
they simply chomp out large areas, not leaving a lacy pattern.
Try inspecting your plants at night, with a flashlight. Many of the
critters work undercover of darkness. Even a few nibblers can do
major damage. If the infestation is not severe, a good handpickin'
can work wonders.
Boron and Bill give good advice.
Going out at night with a flashlight will give you your answer. I'm in
California and pill bugs, slugs, and earwigs love to feed at night. I
hand pick them off. Mine are in pots and that makes it simple. Regards
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