Yesterday’s post covered late blight on tomatoes, just confirmed in Connecticut. Today brings news of another blight. One that attacks basil … that’s right … basil. I’m just full of good news!
I missed the NPR story on basil blight earlier in the week, but caught the link from the CT NOFA (Northeast Organic Farming Association) Facebook fan page. Apparently the disease is a problem in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Florida. It acts and spreads much like late blight in tomatoes – via splashed soil and wind – so it is likely to impact gardeners in surrounding areas. It’s also known as basil downy mildew.
The solution should you find your carefully tended basil leaves beginning to tinge yellow? Inspect the underside of the leaves for spores – they look like tiny grayish/brown specs between the veins (check out photo links below. If you find basil blight, freeze or make pesto with all the healthy leaves and destroy the remaining plant residue. I’m only guessing you should isolate infected plants in a sealed plastic bag for trash disposal – this is what you should do with late blight infected tomatoes. I also guess you should not compost diseased plants.
Vegetable MD on basil blight – photos, more info on the pathogen, and a reporting link should your basil develop blight.
It just so happens that I went a little crazy planting basil this year – we LOVE pesto. I have five varieties potted in numerous containers and planted amongst perennials; large-leaved Basilico Mostruoso, Italiano Classico, Basilico Finissimo Verde a Palla, a globe-shaped bushy plant, and Greek Mini Yevani, a small leaved Ocimum-type, and lemon basil. I’ve also given a good number of small transplants away. The prospect that some … many … all … could be wiped out by blight, as could my tomatoes, makes me downright queasy. My mouth waters for fresh tomato and basil salads – the perfect flavors of summer.
I have no experience with basil blight. I’d love to hear from anyone who has dealt with basil blight –how fast did it come on and spread?