Basil: Round Two

In case you missed it, my first attempt at growing basil this season failed miserable.  The basil grew fine, but then the snails ate it to the quick.  Turns out basil is one of their favorites.

basil fail

Two tiny ‘sticks’, formerly known as basil, right

Today I planted more basil, but with additional precautions.  I bought a packet of copper tape and wrapped it around the planter bed. A small electrical charge will keep them from crossing the copper tape.  One package was just enough.  The new basil is now planted next to the tomatoes.  The plants do well together, so they already have synergy going for them. Last year’s basil grew close to the tomatoes and remained healthy all season.

Since snails are resourceful, I needed to take additional steps to keep them out of the bed.  Clippers in hand, I removed all the lower, over-hanging tomato leaves.  There is no sense wrapping the box in copper, only to provide a nice bridge into the box for tasty dining.

Snail bridge?  All Clear.

Snail bridge? All Clear.

With my gloves firmly in place, I ran my hand along the under side of the upper box, making sure any hiding places were clear.  You don’t want to box the snails *inside* the planting bed.  I’m going outside one more time around dusk to be sure I haven’t missed any interlopers.

Meanwhile the tomatoes, no doubt confused by our warm winter, are growing like weeds.  They volunteered in the planter box…

volunteer tomatoes

Self-sown (volunteer) tomatoes

in the gravel walkway…

tomato in gravel

I’ll just set seed here if you don’t mind

and they volunteered in the compost bin.

tomatoes in compost barrel

Tomatoes growing through the cracks of the composting barrel

No shortage of tomatoes this year.

On the subject of compost, I’ve stopped turning the bin for now.  I want those adventurous tomatoes  to have a fighting chance.  I scooped out handfuls of compost and used it to dress the tomatoes and basil.  I’m still amazed when I see the rich, black compost, knowing it came from dried leaves, twigs and kitchen scraps.  It feels like my own little magic show in the garden.

newly planted basil

Newly planted basil, dressed in organic compost, surrounded by copper barrier tape

Now that basil, round two is safely tucked in and the tomatoes are sporting a few flowers, I’ll soon  have the makings of a delicious caprese salad.

Meanwhile, check out this fabulous site All About Slugs: find out what really works to control the slimy menace.

We focus on reliable information and natural, tested solutions that really work. We never recommend anything that isn’t safe for children, pets, wildlife and the environment. You can control these pesky pests and still enjoy a beautiful, safe and natural yard and garden.

The site provides a list of slug and snail resistant plants, many of which already grow in my garden. Of course I’m trying to grow three of their favorites too: basil, lettuce and strawberries (the fruit, not the leaves).

For a chuckle or at least a guffaw, take a look at Slugapalooza. You’ll find clever poems, drawings and photos and (I kid you not) an ‘interview’ with a snail. Enjoy!

25 thoughts on “Basil: Round Two

  1. Those are going to be the best tomatoes ever, I’ll bet. How to you get an electrical charge to the copper tape or did I misunderstand something?? We tried putting saucers of beer down for the snails once because someone said they liked it and would drown in it. Should have had the beer myself. ;(. They did eat everything. Little buggers. Good gravy, I can smell the basil from here. Yum.


    • I hope you’re right, MH. They sure look healthy.

      The copper tape naturally interacts with the slime of the snail, giving it a tiny shock, so they won’t cross it. It’s a bit like us walking on a rug in our socks during a dry spell. We get that little static charge. It doesn’t kill them, it just turns them away.

      Sorry to hear your bear experiment failed. I’ve heard that one too. Honestly, I find snails under just about everything in the garden. I don’t know how anyone could ever control them completely.


  2. I can hardly believe those tomatoes, WOW. They’re going gang busters. Will you just let the little one in the walk way continue there or transplant it? I linked over to the list and was pleasantly surprised to see most of the plants I had in my old garden on the good list except for Delphiniums and Lilly’s which I also had. Since the Delph stems got very unsightly after the blooming period. I’d chop them right to the ground and place one of my extra larger planter pots on a couple of bricks in the same spot. I never let them go to seed, I think that takes a lot of energy out of a perennial and prefer that they store it up for next year.

    I only planted Marigolds’ one year. They were a Pom-Pom style, large yellow heads. Have you seen those? They look very ‘Dr Seuss. They were never used again because of the snails that climbed in, on, over and slimed them to smithereens. Yuk. Good luck with the Basil, it’s my favourite herb of all time. I love how it smells when warm too. xoxo K


    • These tomatoes really are amazing. I can’t wait to see what they are. So many of the plants look the same to my untrained eye. I’ll be as surprised as everyone else.

      The plants growing in the gravel (there are actually two, but only one pictured), came up *through* the weed block cloth and the gravel, so digging them up would be a production and would most likely do them in. I normally let the pumpkins trail across that gravel area during the season, then I move the composter there for the winter.

      This year, however, I’m trying something new. I’m going to grow the pumpkins on the deck in EarthBoxes. I’ve already spotted a squash book. Since we had such a mild winter, they’ve wintered over. Darn it all. They’ll destroy my pumpkins. So…I’m hoping to trick them by planting them in a new place. Fingers crossed.

      It’s so good to know what those snails do and don’t like. Now I can plan year after year. I sure hope the copper tape holds up. Copper has become so expensive. The tape was double what it used to be.

      We’ll have to add basil salad to our time in BC. Oh yummmmy. xox


      • ick, those squash bugs are hideous, I hope they don’t multiply too badly. Maybe a decoy plant near where they are currently. A sacrificial squash so to speak. I read a blog called ‘Hands On Bowie’, Herman and his uber cool kitty live in Belgium and he’s having Snail woes too. So, they are everywhere it seems. Humans spend a lot of time and money battling nature don’t we? xoK


        • Funny you should say that. I did think about a decoy plant, but then worried that I would be just as sad to see that one go. LOL. I”m doomed.

          You are so right: humans spend a lot of time and money trying to outwit nature.


  3. I had exactly the same problem with parsley last year… as soon as the leaves were big enough to climb up, munch munch and they were gone. But the copper tape works really well for me and I managed to keep one pot safe! Thanks for the link – I’ll be going over to that article later. We need all the anti-snail tips we can get in our garden! Good luck with the basil Alys. 😀


  4. They are so resourceful aren’t they! Good idea to cut their little bridges back – though I have a suspicion they actually have little trapeze swings they sneak out with after dark and cross chasms on, so nothing is ever safe! Despite our very cold spell last week, I still found half a dozen hiding out around pots and planters this morning……… I am not seduced into liking them any more through cute poems, cute pictures or even cute interviews. [Put on best Grumpy face and fold arms firmly across chest} I am not a snail fan, I just am not!

    I love how your tomatoes are so very keen to flourish in your garden, they really, really want you to be enjoying many a caprese salad this summer! I am full of interest to know what the tomatoes taste like from these self employed little beauties – please do keep us in the loop on this as well.


    • That made me giggle, for two reasons. One, the absurdity, coupled with the reaction “I just *knew it*. [Snicker] Two, I saw a hummingbird swing at the garden center last week. Apparently branches are no longer good enough. [Snicker-snicker]

      LOL to your arms folded/grumpy face, Pauline. You’re keeping me entertained this afternoon.

      I’m curious too, to know what tomatoes re-seeded. Last year I planted five heirloom varieties from seed. They were gifts from my nurseryman friend, Doug. I also planted cherry tomatoes. Not all of them came up, but those that did were delicious.



  5. Oh that basil is so cute!
    That’s interesting about the copper, my granny-in-law sticks a piece of copper wire in the stems of tomato plants to stop pests, but I never knew how that worked!


    • I don’t think I fully appreciated how lucky I am to be gardening here before connecting with so many other gardeners from around the world. I hope our spring weather shows up soon.

      As for the snails, I checked last night and this morning, but this afternoon found a tiny one on the top leaves. Then I did a head-slap: I had a piece of irrigation hose crossing from the top to the bottom box, yet another bridge. That tube is now wrapped in a tiny remnant of copper.


  6. I just knew this post was for me! Just because it hasn’t been warm enough yet for me to get some in the ground 🙂 Just looking at those beautiful plants makes me happy.
    (Hello. I’m Laurie and I’m a basil addict)


    • You make me smile, Laurie.

      I know this is your summer favorite. I had my plants on the kitchen counter for a few days before planting them and oh that smell. I might buy one more to keep indoors in the kitchen window.

      Basil addict.Say that three times! 😉


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