The other morning I went outside and found that my basil plants were brown and limp. I cut the bad parts off, which left only the stalk. Now there is white “cottage cheese” looking stuff coming out of each place that I cut. What is this? Can I save my plant? Or should I just start over? Since then I have brought my plants inside. But they are still producing this white stuff. Please help!
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Tabitha in Tennessee: Basil is a must-have in any herb garden. Unfortunately for those of us not gardening in warmer climates, it is considered an annual. There are many varieties of basil and all of them are very frost-sensitive; this is what caused the foliage on your plant to turn brown. It can be grown indoors in a very bright room or south-facing window if you have one. Since there is no foliage left on your plant you can add it to your compost pile and start with a new one. If you have sufficient growing conditions indoors it is worth growing, but in some cases it is just easier to buy basil at the market during the colder months. Later this winter, you can start your basil seeds indoors before the frost-free date for your area arrives and get a head start on your basil for next season. At the end of the growing season next year or as your basil needs pruning and you have an abundance of it, you can store it for winter use. Freezing fresh basil in ice cubes is a great way to use your home-grown herb in winter dishes. As for the white stuff it may be aphids but without seeing your plant I can’t say for sure.