What not to do when growing basil

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Red and I enjoyed a little fresh basil on our leftover spaghetti tonight (adding fresh herbs is a great way of sprucing up a ho-hum meal, by the way). I was excited because two weeks ago I thought my basil was a goner. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be harvesting any more this season. You see, my growing basil has had a series of near-death experiences and only one little sprig lived to tell the tale. Click through to read an exclusive guest post from my basil plant on its traumatic experiences and how it pulled through.


Hello. I’m Evie’s basil, although I’d prefer it if someone else were taking care of me. She’s nice and all but doesn’t have a clue about how to properly care for herbs. So I offered to share about how she almost killed me and how we could have avoided the drama. I hope that my story will save some struggling sprig somewhere.

In late spring I was strong and healthy. There were three other plants in my pot and although we were spaced pretty close together, it was one big party. Our soil was even alright—it had great drainage so we didn’t stay soggy. I liked the location alright; it was close to the house where we got a good 6-8 hours of sun. Yeah, that was the life.

It lasted about a week. One glorious week before the Great Attack of 2012 took place. Miller moths arrived in swarms. Thousands of them, earlier this year than their predatory swallows. I soon realized that our location was dangerous to our health, but the Clueless Human didn’t notice. We were placed directly beneath the porch light, where moths and all sorts of other nasty insects are attracted. Every night was like a drunken party at a low-life bar. They were loud and rude. I was constantly accosted by the moths; they ate my leaves and weakened my system.

The moths left us alone after a couple of weeks, but the damage was done. Then summer set in and Colorado graced us with a few storms that included violent hail. The carnage was unbelievable. Half our soil was tossed out, our roots exposed and cold. Clueless Human hurriedly patted some more soil into our pot but she should have covered us or moved us inside. My friends didn’t survive the next storm. I alone escape with my life hanging by a thread.

Something miraculous happened a couple weeks later. Clueless Human had a not-so-clueless moment and moved my pot with lonely me into a lovely new spot away from the house. Here, I still get great sun but I no longer live close to the night life. Within days I started feeling better. Within a week I actually squeezed out a set of new leaves. And you know what? Clueless Human struck again. She didn’t even wait until I was established and at least 6-8 ” before she clipped away my brand new growth. Rude. I’m hoping that she leaves me alone for awhile. Maybe she’ll even read this post and get a clue.


I got the clue, and my basil and I are friends again. So here’s a little recap of what basil DOES need to thrive:

  • Soil with good drainage
  • 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Basil likes it hot and dry
  • Water as needed; keep the soil moist but not wet
  • Locate it away from the house a bit, to protect from other bugs
  • If you know that major storms are coming, try to protect the plant by covering or moving it—the leaves are easy to damage
  • Wait until it reaches 6-8″ high before harvesting
  • Harvest leaves before the plant flowers. Do that by pinching leaves off right below new growth (or right above old growth)

If you’re a basil expert, share the wealth! Did I miss anything?

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