No purple for you

In the midst of a bank of pots of herbs, options including baby parsley, baby mint, baby dill, lavender out the wazoo and even green basil, my purple basil alone fell victim late last week to a leaf thief.

Purple basil stalksSomeone of the animal persuasion, be it squirrel or rabbit or, heck, beagle mix who lives upstairs, decided to partake of all the leaves associated with my purple basil. I walked out there to water, and stopped, horrified, at the site of so many headless stalks.

I went out of town for the weekend, and returned to discover the pot was clean. No purple basil, even stalk-like, was left for the taking.

So I did what any intrepid gardener would do. I transplanted some of the stronger, taller Genovese basil into the former home of the purple stuff. If I can’t have colorful basil, then, by golly, I’ll have a heck of a lot of the green stuff. After all, it tastes just as good.


18 Responses to “No purple for you”

  1. 1 Michelle June 5, 2007 at 4:33 am

    Oh no! I bet there’s still time to start some new purple basil! Don’t let the leave stealers get you down!

  2. 2 Katiez June 5, 2007 at 4:42 am

    Snails do that. You can get back at them by eating them.
    I have lots of snails.
    Two ways to prevent snails and slugs from getting your basil, which they love: sprinkle little blue anti-snail pellets around the perimeter of the garden, which is what I do now because my garden is so big. I only have to do it when they are seedlings. Once the plants are taller than 3 inches they’re fine.
    Or, more organic and perfect if you have pots: tie a thin copper wire around the pot. Snails and slugs won’t crawl over copper – something about the reaction with the slime they trail behind. This is what I did in Andorra when my herbs were in pots.

  3. 3 Lydia June 5, 2007 at 4:45 am

    I also found last year that the deer were eating my herbs. Deer! Who knew they liked basil, parsley and chives so much? I hope that somewhere in my woods the deer are growing tomatoes and other wonderful veggies to eat with the herbs which, on their own, aren’t the best meal.

  4. 4 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2007 at 6:36 am

    Michelle, that’s not a bad idea. I wish I could get seedlings, though, instead of seed. Drat.

    Katiez, snails, huh? I hadn’t thought of that — I haven’t seen any other evidence of them, but I’m sure anything’s possible! Thanks for the copper wire tip — that’s fascinating.

    Lydia, I hope they’re cooking up a feast, too. Deer are so cute, but man, such pests!

  5. 5 cole June 5, 2007 at 6:41 am

    Theives, bloody theives! More beheadings in the garden!

    BTW…check out this..

  6. 6 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2007 at 6:43 am

    Cole, is that your new blog? So great! Thanks for sharing the link. :-)

  7. 7 Briana June 5, 2007 at 11:05 am

    Hmm… I had the same thing happen with my purple basil – though it was less slugs and more me.

    I also planted four new sweet basils in response to my one dead opal basil…

  8. 8 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Briana, interesting…there seems to be a conspiracy here. But at least you and I will have no shortage of sweet basil this summer. Yum…

  9. 9 cole June 5, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    I noticed when I went to school this morning that our rose bush looks weird and has not bloomed…still! I looked closely and SOMEONE has eaten all the leaves. ALL OF THEM.

    What eats roses?

  10. 10 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Check everyone’s breath around you, Cole. Check everyone’s breath.

    That’s weird, dude. Totally weird.

  11. 11 Heather June 5, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Apparently there are a lot of insects that will eat your rose leaves, though I only have personal experience with Japanese beetles:

  12. 12 Nirmala June 5, 2007 at 2:35 pm


    I feel your pain. If it’s snails, I would use a product called “slugo.” It’s natural and works and won’t harm pets, kids, or your plants. If it’s other critters, I put little cages around my plants. Last summer when I was growing basil, I found that some critter would dig the soil (not sure what critter it was) but left the basil itself alone! Weird.

  13. 13 inadvertentgardener June 5, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    Heather, interesting…but would the beetles eat the whole rose?

    Nirmala, thanks for the slugo tip — I’ll check that out. I haven’t actually seen any slugs yet, but I do have the issue of things digging in my dirt this year, leaving huge holes. Most of the time, they don’t bother the plants, but I still wonder if the holes and the eating of the basil might not be related…

  14. 14 Heather June 5, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    It’s been a while since my mom grew roses and I actually saw Japanese beetles, but left unchecked, I imagine the beetles could take out a whole rose bush. We don’t know how big the bush is or how long since Cole last checked it. We also don’t know if there were leaf skeletons left behind (a sure sign of beetles or another pest) or if all the foliage completely disappeared (would deer eat rose leaves?).

  15. 15 Christina June 5, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Another tip related to slugs and copper–don’t have copper wire? Use pennies. The build a circle of pennies around the plant you’re trying to protect from slugs or snails. It works just as well as copper wire and looks cute too.

    I’m sorry about your purple basil, gosh darnit! So frustrating . . ..

  16. 16 cole June 5, 2007 at 7:20 pm

    I checked my rose (mini yellow bush about 12 inches by 15 inches tall) 2 days ago. No leaft skeletons. Just NO LEAVES. Bare. The buds are still there though and some stems. Weird.

    I may need to invest in a camera or something to catch the theif. THere are lovely wild strawberries in my yard right next to them and you would think they would be more appetizing for sure.

    I will check out the bettle thing though. Mmmm..

    I do know the squirrels are digging up the front garden all around my salvia and dusty miller. Rats with wings, I TELL YA.


  17. 17 chigiy June 5, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Poor little decapitated basil.
    It must be scary to see these giant ivory colored teeth
    coming at you and not be able to move, just sit there while
    your head gets bitten off. Sends a shiver down my spine.
    I think I’ll have another beer before I go to bed:)

  18. 18 inadvertentgardener June 6, 2007 at 12:00 am

    Heather, that’s fascinating. Leaf skeletons…how interesting. I mean, not interesting enough that I want to see that on my own plants, but still…interesting. Thank you for all the insight!

    Christina, thanks for that terrific tip about the pennies! I have a TON of them…maybe I’ll put them to use in the garden. Which would be kind of fun.

    Cole, you need a hidden camera. Call WBAL or something and see if they’ll hook you up!

    Chigiy, I agree…those white teeth looming are a horrifying thought. A toast to you — enjoy that beer!

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