Imagine: “The basil has turned yellow again,” he said.
“I know,” she answered, “I asked about it at the garden center and they told me it’s a disease called Basil Downy Mildew.”
“Bummer,” he said. “What can we do?”
“This year, nothing…except make what’s still good into pesto,” she replied. “But next year I’m told we can buy a new variety from Proven Winners called Amazel.”
“Amazing!” he said.
“You got it,” she responded. “My mom always said that the gardener’s mantra is ‘Things will be different next year.’ If we plant Amazel, Mom will definitely be right.”
Name: Ocimum hybrid, Amazel basil
Type of Plant: A basil that is resistant to basil downy mildew, and because it doesn’t flower early in the season, produces more foliage in July and August than most plants. The plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide.
Why I Love/Hate this plant: Although I’ve learned to dance with basil downy mildew for our main crop of this herb, I recognize that many people won’t do what we do. For those who just want a few plants to cut fresh basil for their home grown tomatoes, or for making a batch or two of pesto, this plant is your answer to a harvest despite the downy mildew.
A Word to the Wise: How we cope with BDM: We watch for the first signs of the disease and when we see the lower leaves starting to yellow we harvest all the tops and make the leaves into pesto that gets frozen. The bottom eight to twelve inches of stems are left in the garden after harvest and sprayed with Revitalize by Bonide. These stems regenerate and regrow enough to produce some new, fresh leaves for us to use into the fall.