I thought my basil crop was going to be a near failure this season. I planted them in cool weather that later dipped into the upper 30s, turning the tips of the leaves brown.The survived, but hardly thrived. Then some pest or another started making dotted holes on them. One of the plants, a basil perpetua in the window box, wasn't getting enough drainage to handle the downpours and started to look like a goner.
But just when I was starting to think it was time to start over with fresh plants, they turned the corner. Whatever pest was munching on leaves moved on. A stretch of hot sunny days brought on a flurry of growth and dried out the poor basil perpetua to the point it perked up again.
And, more surprisingly, the basil multiplied.
I've always been a little lax late in the season about topping my basil, so some of it goes to flower. Usually there's plenty of basil to keep up with household needs so I have to keep remembering to harvest enough to make pesto to freeze. (I know, such a problem to have...) So I'm sure every year there have been seeds sown, but this is the first time I've ever been so lucky as to have basil volunteer. I nearly pulled the first seedling, assuming it was a weed, but realized it had the telltale basil shape, and the leaves smelled of basil. Then there was another one, and another one. Some are the standard variety; others are the Thai basil kind.
I'm not sure what brought on this sudden burst of volunteerism, since we've been planting more or less the same varieties for years and in the same trough planter. But I'll take it. Luckily, my tomatoes are just now coming ripe to pair with all that basil.Lots of caprese salads, pesto sauce and a basil hefeweizen in our future.
What's your basil story been like this season? Got any surprise volunteer plants in your garden this year? (I'm also having a bumper crop of painted ferns sprouting randomly for some reason. Maybe all the rains?) And what's your favorite way to use basil?