Basil and I have a love-hate relationship. The herb I mean. I love it but I kill it with worrying frequency, and it hates to grow beyond about a centimetre for me. Despite my (many, epic) failures with growing basil, I have, once again stumbled into the breach, if for no other reason than my concern that the nice delivery man might not consider fresh basil a priority if it comes to the crunch.
As ever, my basil (even last year’s seeds, as I could procure no new ones) grew to about 1-2 cm then stopped. No amount of sunshine, cover or heat seems to encourage them to grow any bigger. It is no surprise, but it is disappointing.
I think I would feel less frustrated if I was, in general, completely black thumbed. If all plants wilted in my presence, I could just shrug it off down to some kind of negative aura and leave all gardening to the husband (although he does favour the biblical ‘salting of the earth’ method of gardening. Apparently he doesn’t have the patience for actual weeding.) But, I have sweetcorn that is sprouting up nicely. My beans are already planted and slowly winding their way up their canes, with more growing in pots ready to go in the ground. Broccoli, tomatoes, sweet and chilli peppers are all being grown from seed as we speak – all looking hearty and hale. Two courgette plants are again planted, with the spares being held back for when the rabbits eat the current ones (more on this next time) and both pumpkin and squash plants are ready and raring.
So, not a black thumb. Just a battle with my favourite herb. And now, apparently, rocket. And lettuce. No doubt if someone gave me a kids’ cress plant kit, that would appear with a tiny shoot, then pause, forever frozen as a miniscule spot of green. How can you not be able to grow salad leaves? My mother came round to pick up her groceries I had added to my shopping delivery for her, ever the dutiful daughter, (whilst keeping our social distance, of course) and on her way to her car, commented on my rocket. ‘When did you plant it?’ she asked, ‘Mine’s been in for 2 weeks and is rocketing (sic!). Did you plant this last week?’ Thanks, mother, for pointing out the glaring inadequacies of my rocket. 3 weeks and counting, and it doesn’t look like I will be cancelling the salad section of my food delivery any time soon. Unless my mum will swap her rocket for future courgette and squash? I can only hope.
Tips for Bashful Basil
Basil catches cold easily! Find a sheltered spot if grown outside, protect from wind and cold overnight temperatures or frost. If grown on the windowsill, choose the sunniest, preferably south facing. Basil needs 6 hours of sunlight (not necessarily full midday sun)
Water first thing in the morning, avoid splashing the leaves. Water from the bottom by standing the container in a dish of water.
Potting on into a slightly bigger container every time roots show through the drainage holes in the bottom keeps plants growing throughout summer.
Snip above a leaf node leaving 3 side shoots below and your plant will regenerate and grow more leaves.