Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Faulty flowers

Basil is a pain (ok, herb not flower but it is surely all about the title)

What a nightmare to grow.

Has anyone else been successful with the stuff without getting totally frustrated? I want to use all sorts of profanities but this is family website (no, really it's meant to be, you just have a filthy mind)

I've tried seeds - both from a major player in the seed packet market and free from that behemoth of horticultural publishing, Gardener's world. (As an aside, what a cracking word 'behemoth' is. Say it out loud in your deepest possible voice. Don't you feel ten times stronger?!)

Look. The paltry leaves that appear in the foreground would be shunned by even Tesco value pasta.

The basil bush  in the background hides the fact that many of the leaves have holes in them too. They were hidden in the grow house, but still managed to get themselves savaged in places. Having said that, they are probably the most successful of all my attempts, grown in a large pot and kept in the heat.

And at least they have been hardy enough to keep some of their leaves intact. I tried a cheats option of buying ready grown basil from a reputable garden centre. Won't be doing that again:

I didn't even get to eat a leaf.
Last year I had the same problem. I get the feeling these little darlings are a little delicate for our spring climate. More of a summer plant that needs constant care and attention until the last shiver of cold has departed from the night.

However, rather than indulge this herbaceous form of man flu, I'm following a little tip from my garden bible - Mark Diacono's River Cottage veg book  - and using it as a sacrificial plant. Apparently, if you plant basil next to tomatoes it draws all the aphids. Ha ha ha (boom boom!) As an evil Mr Brush might say.

Tomatoes by the canes, basil to the right actually looking better in the photo than real life. Must be airbrushed

Basil, I've just about had enough of you.


Johnboy said...

I gave up on basil this year, a pain in the ass to grow.
It's so delicate! Resolved the problem by growing purple
Basil, same scent and flavour, much hardier and
Easy to grow. (as long as you like purple)

Good luck


Jill Vaughan said...

I think basil is best grown in a pot. It needs to be in a sunny, sheltered position. I put ours by a south-facing wall. Don't even think about growing outside before mid-May/early June. Don't plant more than you will use; that way the aphids, etc. have less time to establish before you pick it. Choose a good variety from a reliable seed house e.g. Sweet Genovese from Kings/Suffolk Herbs or you can buy plugs from us. Finally, you might find Greek basil easier to grow. Best of luck, Jill

Hapless kitchen gardener said...

Johnboy - believe it or not I'm also failing with the purple basil! In the background of the photo with the destroyed basil you may spot a declining purple leafed variety. I'm half tempted to ditch growing it as with the carrots. However, Jill you give me hope so may be one last go this year Thanks both for the comments

Hanzy said...

I totally share your pain, the most success I ever had was in hanging baskets (too high/windy for pests?) on a due-south facing wall. Even that went yellow after a while, and the leaves went tough!

The Poet Herself said...

I have had terrible luck with basil. I killed a few plants last year and am on my 3rd and 4th attempts (the 3rd being pretty weak already) this year. I used ready-grown for most of them, the 4th attempt being small seedlings I got in a 6-pack from the local nursery. They've been the most successful of my attempts, but they're still pretty lame. The only thing that seems to be working so-so is the boxwood basil plant I bought. But I've only had it a few days so we'll see how it is in a few weeks.

The Hapless Kitchen Gardener

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I only feel hapless because some people make it look easy to grow 10 ft marrows or a banquet of greens whereas my courgettes got nabbed by killer slugs and I only got one raspberry. So tips and stories from people less hapless than I are more than welcome. As a disclaimer though, none of my comments should be taken as expert advice on which you can rely! © Unless stated otherwise, and with the exception of guest content where that guest retains copyright, all photos and posts are the copyright of Tom Carpen and may not be used without permission.