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Growing basil.

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I'm growing about 14 different basils this year.

Basil botany is convoluted at best, so I'll just say that seed houses have no clue what they're selling. (Not that my plant name database is up to date on basils, either ... (Update: it is now.))

I've Ocimum basilicum, Ocimum minimum (Ocimum basilicum subsp. minimum), Ocimum americanum, and Ocimum tenuiflorum (Ocimum sanctum).

Photo: Ocimum basilicum 8. That's Cinnamon basil 1, 'Purple ruffles' 2, Genovese basil 3, Thai basil 4, 5 (2 different seed suppliers), mammoth basil 6, purple basil 7, 'Red Rubin' 8, 'Spicy globe' 9, Greek basil 10, lemon basil 11, 12 (2 seed suppliers), lime basil 13, and holy basil 14.

I planted these indoors in tiny potlets at the beginning of April. And watered them regularly and watched them thrive, more or less. And repotted them into larger pots with a dash of dung pellets a month later. And waited for the weather to warm up enough to plant them outside ... basils die if they get even a hint of frost, and they also die if temperatures dive below, say, 4 degrees C or so.

In early to mid-June our days got warmer, so I carried the trays out for the afternoons, carrying them back in again for the nights.

About 10 days ago our nights finally warmed up as well, so we dug up a bit of the lawn and I got pressure to get rid of the plant trays on the kitchen table already.

I planted them out a week ago. Including their white little sticks. (About those white naming sticks: write with pencil, that won't fade, nor blur in rain.)

As we have a baby brown hare and baby jackdaws in our garden, I thought it prudent to add white gardening cloth on top. I also thought it prudent to sprinkle all the rest of the seeds in the seed packets on top of the three planted pots each.

The jackdaws thought that was a blast - especially the white name sticks. Within two days they had pulled almost all of them up, making lots of holes in the gardening cloth.

So I removed the white sticks, making a map of the plants on paper instead. I also removed the white cloth.

The baby hare and his mom have ignored the basils completely.

The carefully nurtured plantlets look anemic, and most of them have fallen over - except for the genovese, which, at about 5 cm tall (yes, you read that right) is the biggest of the lot, and looks like it'll be getting enormous leaves. Think "mammoth!" and you're right - the mammoth basil is dwarfed by this one, which again makes me wonder about seed houses and their seed packagers.

All the seeds have sprouted, and they look extremely vigorous, especially when compared to the mostly fallen-over and mostly way-too-leggy plantlets.

Next year I might ditch the "let's plant things in pots indoors before we plant them out" exercise altogether - but I'll know more about it in a month, when both the planted and the straight-sown basils have grown a bit.

Related entry: Bird-proof basil cage