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Old September 18, 2019   #1
kilroyscarnival
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Default Basil under attack

I feel like I'm resigning myself to keeping my sweet basil indoors. At my old place, the apartment, I took a two-buck leggy basil plant from Trader Joes, cut and rooted the tops, lather-rinse-repeat, until I had a dozen or so nicely bushy basil plants. On my back step I couldn't grow much more than that and a small box of salad greens. Then along came this black-and-yellow couple of Southeastern lubber grasshoppers which systematically ate the basil to a stump and tried to live off my much hardier Cuban oregano.

Here at the new place, I started over with some basil a few months back, and also had discovered a surviving woody stalk of it that had been planted with my patio tomato in a container. Within the past week I went from discovering that I had what looked like a piece of white fluff on the underside of a few leaves, to a full-scale assault by what seemed to be ants. As it turns out, I guess ants preying on white wooly aphids to gather their honeydew. And the ants were covering the stems of the basil with black potting soil.

So, I mixed up a spray bottle full of mild dish soap (the Seventh Generation type) and water, and sprayed, then picked up some neem oil and applied a solution with that Sunday. I think that for now the battle has been won, but wonder whether I need to keep applying. The basil look a bit sad, as I took off a lot of leaves in cleaning it up, but there is new growth at the crown, and after I let that go for a bit I can dead-head it and see if I get new growth. But, wow, it made me wonder what I'm in for with the tomatoes.

Another thing I might try doing is putting my basil containers within a moat so the ants at least don't get across to it. My sweetie's house has always been battling an ant problem, so makes sense that it extends to the back yard. At least they aren't fire ants!

For now, I'm keeping the two new basil pots I started from seed -- Lettuce Leaf Basil and a Red Rubin -- inside and in the windowsill.
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Old September 18, 2019   #2
GrowingCoastal
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putting my basil containers within a moat so the ants at least don't get across to it.

Brilliant idea. Hope it works well for you.
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Old September 18, 2019   #3
Worth1
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My basil is growing in big feed tubs with one 1/2 inch drain hole on the down hill side.
There is clear tubing coming up from the drain hole to the top.
This allows me to see the water level and drain if needed.
The plus side is if fire ants invade I cant just flood them out.
Which they have once or twice.
My basil is infested with little attack spiders which is a good thing.
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Old September 18, 2019   #4
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...My basil is infested with little attack spiders which is a good thing.
I love spiders.
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Old September 18, 2019   #5
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my basil was BEAUTIFUL until last Thursday. It was nice on Wed and on Thursday it had a black mold covering the bottom of each and every leaf. it looked like soot. crazy. never seen anything like it. I cut it all back.
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Old September 18, 2019   #6
Worth1
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my basil was BEAUTIFUL until last Thursday. It was nice on Wed and on Thursday it had a black mold covering the bottom of each and every leaf. it looked like soot. crazy. never seen anything like it. I cut it all back.
Try the bleach spray it worked fantastic for me.
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Old September 18, 2019   #7
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I cut it all back. it turned yellow and nasty looking. just sad!
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Old September 18, 2019   #8
kilroyscarnival
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It’s good to know I’m not the only one. I picked up another leggy fresh one from Trader Joe’s to either supplement or replace what I have. I also have a bunch of old seeds and I may do a massive trial to see if any of it’ll still germinate.
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Old September 19, 2019   #9
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kilroy.. the nicest looking basil I have ever grown is a new variety called "Everleaf". It is gorgeous and doesn't go to seed the whole summer. it is a little bit "bitier" according to one of my customers when he tasted it one day... but I never had to pinch it back.

I must not have finished reading the original post... duh. about the ants... they will place aphids on the basil to harvest for honeydew. maybe sprinkle DE around the plants too. if you have a plastic pot spray a residual action ant killer around the bottom of the pot to kill any that cross the surface of the pot to try to get on the plant. De dust for the surface of the pot. the other thing that works is to lace Boric acid with sugar and leave that out for the ants to "harvest". that is a good ant killer too.
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Last edited by clkeiper; September 19, 2019 at 09:20 AM.
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Old September 21, 2019   #10
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Mine is fairly large and going to seed right now with still lots of blooms and the bees love it. Way past the eating stage although I can still use some of the new leaves but they are a little bitter this late in the year. I just have to remember to save some seed for next year. Despite all the seed they produce each year I have never had a single volunteer basil plant and I have been growing it for decades.

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Old September 21, 2019   #11
JoParrott
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Default basil

This is Greek Columnar Basil- it doesn't flower, grows compactly to about 3 feet- I love it- right now I have 5 rooted cuttings on my windowsill to be sure I have some next year.
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Old September 24, 2019   #12
kilroyscarnival
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clkeiper View Post
kilroy.. the nicest looking basil I have ever grown is a new variety called "Everleaf". It is gorgeous and doesn't go to seed the whole summer. it is a little bit "bitier" according to one of my customers when he tasted it one day... but I never had to pinch it back.

I must not have finished reading the original post... duh. about the ants... they will place aphids on the basil to harvest for honeydew. maybe sprinkle DE around the plants too. if you have a plastic pot spray a residual action ant killer around the bottom of the pot to kill any that cross the surface of the pot to try to get on the plant. De dust for the surface of the pot. the other thing that works is to lace Boric acid with sugar and leave that out for the ants to "harvest". that is a good ant killer too.
Thanks! I'll look for Everleaf variety. I feel as though adding to my basil collection is a win in lots of ways.

I did try DE around the pots, had some food grade DE on hand, but then it promptly rained that day. Now that it's been drier I should retry. The bugs all seem gone, though the plant growth is now mostly at the top. We got busy with heavy yard work this weekend since it was finally bearable this weekend temp wise, and last night was my late night getting home, but tonight before it gets dark I intend to go out and cut off some of the tops to hopefully encourage new growth again.

Meanwhile, I saw a very full and leggy plant at Trader Joe's last week, and I was able to take as many good-sized top cuttings and set them to root as there were new shoots in the bottom, so that one will get me restocked pretty quickly. For now, I'm keeping that inside as well. The little seedling starts continue to look pretty good, and I'm going to pick up some Thai basil next time I see a good looking one at a garden center. And I plan to companion plant when I set out my tomatoes. Speaking of which, I need to get those marigolds started too!
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