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Common household remedies request

Thai basil. I'm told it's easy to friggin grow. No such luck for me!

Last year, nada. This year, nada. Seeds (from Fedco!) in five days ago:

1. Good soil (seafood compost)

2. Good sun (best available)

3. One-eighth inch covered gently

4. Three different little patches, though all the same conditions.

5. Soil moist.

It's been a bit cloudy and rainy lately, but not cold, and stuff like greens is very happy, ditto tomatoes and squash.

Am I doing something stupid? Do the Norway Maple leaves I mulched everything with over the window secrete something horrible that kills them?

Should I excavate one of the beds and look for rotted seeds? Help, this is frustrating. I want the beauty but also the strong odor to repel pests.

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Submitted by Lex on

They're generally listed as a five day germination, but they require soil temps of 70 degrees.

In general, and some plants are more susceptible to this than others, you can lose germination if the soil is too wet or too dry ... particularly the latter once the germination process starts. You can also lose seedlings to fungus, etc. before you even see them. If your soil was the right temp for germination and then dropped by a lot, you could lose them.

At five days i wouldn't worry. I find it not uncommon for germination to happen faster or slower than package listings. IMO, basil's one of those things that's more efficient to buy a few starts of than to seed or to seed indoors where temperature is easier to control and transplant out.

Also, you know that Japanese beetles love basil, right? I find the whole odor to repel other bugs to be unsubstantiated except in a few cases where the plant secrets particular compounds like pyrethrum.

Submitted by lambert on

No, I didn't know. So, I guess I've got bait, though! As long as they don't go for the vegetables, they can have the sacrifice raspberries.

I was on the track of mussel shells for a soil amendment, but what with one thing and another...

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

I had some seeds germinate very slowly this spring. At five days, my tomatoes were still unsprouted seeds and even some of the lettuce seeds were slow. I do not know why this might change from year to year, but it does. You can always start some seeds in peat pots for later transplantation if the original seeds are still not sprouting after they have been in the ground for 10 days to 2 weeks.

Maple leaves should not degrade to kill other plants, but of course, any leaf mulch has significant nitrogenous demand. The old formula is two parts green (grass cuttings, etc.) to one part brown (leaves, etc). So, check for low nitrogen if your soil seems to be producing under-fertilized plants.

Submitted by lambert on

On green brown, that formula really worked. My compost heated up right away.

So, looks like I need to do green compost throughout the year on the beds?

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

I should have added that butternut leaves (as well as leaves of other trees of the juglone family including shag bark hickory, and various walnuts) should never be in your compost. Their leaves are the poster children for vegetable materials that rot to produce toxins in the soil limiting the areas where they are present to only their own species. Mostly those species do well in more southerly areas than Maine, but butternut grows wild here in the shadows of the White Mountains and probably is common in your area too.

Submitted by lambert on

I had mostly acorn, but a little butternut, and I composed some of it, for sure. Not much in volume, however.

Should I not then spread last year's really beautiful compost on anything??!!

Salmo's picture
Submitted by Salmo on

The butternut I was writing about is a tree, very similar to walnut but with softer wood and a slightly smaller nut. The nuts are quite good (if you can get them before the squirrels), the husks can be boiled to make a nice soft brown dye, and I made a neighbor a dining room table from some of butternut planks that is lovely. They just don't play well with other plants. Don't worry about the squash leaves.

Submitted by hipparchia on

i too have butternut squash, leaves and all, in my someday-it-will-become-compost pile.

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

5 days and you're already worrying? They're not clockwork. What Lex said about soil temps. And this is from our local plant guru (don't know how well it applies to the NE):

A tender herb, basil will die, or at least be seriously maimed, if you plant it outdoors before nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees. As long as you provide it with a hot, sunny location and plenty of water, basil is among the easiest of herbs to grow in the garden or in a container.

Steady, slow growth is the key to great taste, so amend the soil with compost and forgo the fertilizer. Basil contains the most oils when harvested before the flowers occur. Fortunately, the best way to delay flowering, as well as to encourage branching and new growth, is to harvest regularly by snipping off the end of the branches.

Submitted by lambert on

I'll check today, but last year the one friggin plant flowered did so in a crack on a stone dust path -- which would be hotter.