Basil blues

Olympia, WA

WHAT does basil need? I seem to have a lethal touch with it. Seriously - what would YOU recommend to someone who just doesn't get it??

Thank you!

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

Warmth, warmth, warmth, and sunlight. It is hard to get the timing right on when to put basil starts out in the garden here in the Northwest because our day and nighttime temperatures are so variable. Also, as we have experience in the last week or two, the weather conditions can be quite different from day to day. We go from days at 80 degrees back down into the 50's, making it hard for the basil to acclimate. If you put it out too early in the year, and it endures too much extended cold, it sulks. If you put it out too late, it bolts before making much leaf. I have had some fabulous basil years setting out small plants toward the end of May or beginning of June, but partly it was pure luck.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Last year I put out small starts at the beginning of June and got an excellent harvest, but partly it's because we had a warm summer.

One idea is to put it in a pot on the south side of the house - let the sun bounce off the house and help warm the pot. Of course, that doesn't help if we have a cool rainy June...

If you have room, you can start a lot of seeds and plant a WHOLE BUNCH of little basil starts. Then, even if each plant isn't very productive you still end up with lots. The picture shows a row of basil tucked along a row of tomatoes, to encourage each other along ;-). I had another row of basil a similar length planted elsewhere. The seeds were only a couple of bucks so the price was right. It's too late to do that for this year, though.

Thumbnail by momlady
Olympia, WA

Thank you so much for the information.

MomLady - your photo is just further evidence of how well basil and tomatoes go together!!!!!!

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Slurp!! Drool!

Bellevue, WA(Zone 8a)

I totally agree with heat, but I have not had great luck with full sun...the leaves get really tough for me in sun. Right now, mine is in a shady part of the greenhouse, and I am in Alaska. I hope my husband is watering...

Seattle, WA

Don't know how much you are trying to grow. Enough to dry for later use? This is my first year, and I just bought a small plant and repotted it. My sun is nothing much to write home about, but we squeak along. I found that a lot of the leaves grew mysteriously brown, but I just cut them off, and the plant itself is doing nicely. Sometimes I feel certain plants need to be coddled in a container.

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Instead of starting from seed, like I did last year with great success, I bought a start in a pot from a reliable local retailer. I'm really bummed because the plant has been trying to go to seed for weeks already. Next year I'm back to starting seeds.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

Yeah, my gift starts are blooming away. Seeds please!

Camano Island, WA(Zone 8a)

Yeah! I guess the growers start them way too early because people want to buy them way too early - so if they don't start them too early they can't compete. At least that's the rationale I've figured out in my head and it may have nothing to do with reality.

Springfield, OR(Zone 8a)

I live in your reality too. If there's another one I think it's just virtual.

Olympia, WA

Every comment is grandly appreciated and listened to - thanks so much!!!!

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

I did grow some from seed, but they are not large enough, so I bought some from my nursery. They had them under shade cloth. So, I took note and I have mine in part sun and they seem to be doing just fine.

They are softer than the ones that I am growing from seed, as I have always thought to put them in mostly sun. I suppose that ones that are in more sun are probably more flavorful.

Coos Bay, OR(Zone 9a)

I have read that basil prefers a warm position with morning sun and afternoon shade. So this year I have one on the south side of the house in a giant pot of peppers that are now much higher than the basil plant and it is loving life down in there. The other plant not in the peppers and just out in the open (in a pot)...not so happy. So, maybe there is something to what I read about basil.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Great info everyone. I too am struggling with keeping basil from bolting. I had less trouble with it in the desert. But, then again the spring temps there are pretty stable without much variation day to day and barely any week to week till May when the temps skyrocket toward 100 really fast.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

Not arguing with anyone's feedback, as each gardener is working with their own unique situation and microclimate. This year I had the best basil I've ever grown, and it was in full sun. It did bolt eventually, but before that I had many harvests of big, lush leaves and made tons of pesto. I bought starts this year that were available at the local garden center. I think the key was getting starts that were well grown, not sitting in their pots too long to get stunted before purchase, and planted after the soil warmed up so they didn't go into shock. It is hard to get all those factors to line up every year, with variable weather. I don't always get my own plants going from seed early enough, yet not too early, but I have had great luck with that some years when, again, the weather factors lined up just right with when I started my seeds.

Sierra Foothills, CA(Zone 8a)

You are so right. Basil is one of those plants that are very weather sensitive. They do great if they are a nice size before they get into that nice warm soil.

We can only work with the weather that we get. It is hard to start them at the exact time to have them ready at the precise moment that the weather is perfect, and have it stay that way.

What month do you start yours?

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

Hi there, fellow PNW'r- If you want to grow basil that doesn't constantly make seeds, you need Greek Columnar Basil- I have grown it for years and don't grow any other. It is sinfully fragrant, very neat in growth habit- grows about 4ft tall and about 2ft around. As all Basils it is very sensitive to cold- I always take cuttings and keep in water all winter in a sunny window- trim as needed during the winter, then pot up in spring to plant outside when it is nice and warm. I will happily send you some cuttings if you want- I can send a flat rate US priority box for $6 PayPal money. The plant you see has already been cut from, and was beautiful this summer. Dmail me if you are interested- and anyone else-- I need to cut this plant back before we have a frost. It is beginning to yellow because of the cool weather we are starting to get.

This message was edited Oct 7, 2014 7:49 AM

Thumbnail by JoParrott Thumbnail by JoParrott
Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Sounds like a great alternative. I am not familiar with this one, interesting.

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

Oregonbluemoon, alternative to what? I don't understand. This is Basil that I am talking about. Or maybe your post wasn't about my post-LOL.

Grants Pass, OR(Zone 8a)

Alternative to other basil cultivars that tend to bolt quickly.Lol

Bellevue, WA(Zone 8a)

Interesting...I have never grown the Greek basil. My comments about the leaves getting tough in sun were in reference to Genovese basil.

Vashon, WA(Zone 8b)

I don't use Paypall, but I would love to have some columnar basil cuttings if there is another way to do it!

Richland, WA(Zone 7b)

deleted-wrong post
maurthillfarm- you have dmail

This message was edited Oct 25, 2014 8:04 PM

This message was edited Oct 25, 2014 8:05 PM

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