Normally, in the fall, I’m trying to determine what to do with my usual abundance of basil. Pesto jumps to the top of the list, as well as a huge salad of ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella sprinkled with basil leaves. Yet this year, my basil took a turn for the worst. What happened to my basil?
Last year, we dealt with the impatiens blight that killed impatiens plants overnight. Per our local garden centers’ repeated requests, I didn’t purchase and plant any impatiens this summer. Also, it’s interesting that this year’s annual impatiens “volunteers” from last year’s seed in my garden have done quite well — no impatiens blight so far this year — just gorgeous impatiens plants. Interesting.
Usually my basil is prolific and bushy like the lemon basil below. Watch what you wish for — an overabundance of basil last year would have been welcomed this year.
This year my basil caught “the blight.” I”m not sure if it came from two purchased basil plants or from the purchased potting soil that I was using to grow my own plants from seed. The leaves started to turn brown and black and die off mid-summer. Usually that happens after the first freeze…but never in July!
I used all new soil in my containers, and cleaned and sterilized the containers as I do every year. We had a whole lot of rain for about a solid week over the summer, which just might have encouraged the blight. The blight appears to spread through water droplets splashing around. So I’m stuck with “sticks” and a few sickly basil leaves.
Now, it’s crucial that I remove the tainted soil and all of the leaves/stems of the sick basil plants. The disease can overwinter in plants, plant parts, and the soil.
It’s a good thing that my local grocers carry fresh basil plants and store-made pesto…because it looks like I will be buying theirs for cooking this winter! A favorite salad is Insalata Caprese which includes ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves. Drizzle with some olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with a little salt. And enjoy!