Struggles With Basil And What Is The Perennial Herb I Purchased
Answered by: Inge Poot
Question from: Lisa.Mcdonald-Jensen
Posted on: July 13, 2010

I have had repeated failures to grow vegetables and herbs in my front and back yards, but manage to grow tomatoes and herbs in containers. Given my proximity to the centre of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada and being very close to the rail yards, I’m thinking container growing might be safer.

Sudbury soil is quite contaminated and very acid. You may have to lime it to grow most vegetables, herbs and many flowers since most tend to require neutral to only slightly acid soil. I think your idea of container growing with soil-free mixes as a growing medium might be your safest bet for the foreseeable future.

Even in pots, however, my basil plants still get heavily eaten. I think earwigs are the culprits. Crushed eggshells work against slugs but have no deterrent properties for earwigs. A few basil plants seem to survive in pots, especially the big, tall pot.

To outwit earwigs, you might elevate your pots in a saucer of water. You could even put dish wash detergent into this water to make earwigs sink if they try to swim to your pot. Make sure the saucer is quite a bit wider than the pot, say about 20cm wider, so that earwigs cannot get across the expanse of water. sprinkling a thick layer of diatomaceous earth (one brand name is "Fossil Dust") at the edge of the saucer bottom will also kill the little pests that try to climb through it.

A few years ago, I had the delight of visiting your greenhouses on my way home from a trip to Toronto. On that trip, I purchased a perennial herb that said it had natural insecticidal properties. I vaguely think it starts with an F (or early/mid alphabet) and wondered if it might be feverfew. It has soft green, aromatic foliage. This year it flowered for the first time. There are many small daisy-like flowers on long branched stems above the foliage. The picture of feverfew online in your catalogue looks similar to my plant although the green of the leaves looks wrong - too yellowish, not soft/pastel green, but that might just be a monitor issue. The online description of feverfew talks about it’s potential to reduce migraines, but it doesn’t refer to natural insecticidal properties. It is an attractive plant, I’ve been able to divide it a few times, and include it in pots with basil plants. I’m not sure whether it helps dissuade the earwigs or not. I would like to know its name!. Does feverfew have natural insecticidal properties? Do you have other herbs with natural insecticidal properties that have small daisy-like flowers (white petals with yellow centre).

Have you any suggestion for keeping my basil plants from getting eaten? I have planted them with parsley and the mystery plant mentioned above.

I am not aware of any insecticidal properties of feverfew. It does have a strong somewhat unpleasant smell and a metallic taste and may confuse pests that are drawn to the lovely scent of basil.

The only other herb I can think of with insecticidal properties and daisy flowers is pyrethrum. It is most likely what you have, but it is only effective against flying insects -using the crushed flowers.

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