In Basket: July 2012

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Photo by ©NTPL/Penny Tweedie
In the November 2011 issue of “The Herb Companion,” we featured the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle. If you are interested in visiting this beautiful garden, go to for more information.

Silver Herbs at Sissinghurst Castle Garden

In the November 2011 issue of The Herb Companion, we featured the White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle. If you are interested in visiting this beautiful garden, go to the National Trust website for more information.

Natural Pesticides for Gardens

I bought three sage plants about four months ago, and little by little they have died. I dug under the plants and found black centipede-like bugs. I assume they are what is killing them. I would like to find a natural way to kill these bugs. Any ideas?

–Theresa Eheler, Olongapo City, Philippines

Whiteflies, spider mites and mealybugs commonly infest sage plants. Pests like these are difficult to control without the use of pesticides. Avoid chemical-laden pesticides in favor of herbal solutions (read What’s Wrong with My Herbs: Natural Pesticides for Gardens). You could also fill your garden bed with beneficial bugs (read Attract Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden). –Eds.

Lavender Plant Trouble

I planted lavender nearly six weeks ago. The first five weeks were very productive, it grew well and was shiny. But I noticed that the sun is a bit too harsh for this young plant in this season so I moved the plant to my basement to avoid exposure to the harsh sun. I just noticed that in a day, the plant has started dying very fast and I have no clue what to do. My gut feeling is that it was the lack of direct sunlight as well as perhaps a bit of overwatering. I put the plant in good sun today, and am watching it every hour. Do you have any advice for me?

–Aymen Abdullah, Islamabad, Pakistan

Your gut feeling may have been accurate. Lavender likes to sunbathe–about six to eight hours per day. You should be able to grow it outdoors, but if you’re worried about the harshness of the sun, put a shade cloth over it for part of the day. You can also plant it on the east side of the house to shade it from the brutal afternoon sun. 

Lavender has been deemed a drought-tolerant plant. And although this is true for mature plants grown in dry conditions with little wind, younger plants grown in windier conditions need to be watched for signs of desiccation. This may require your lavender be watered more often. Also be sure to check your soil. Lavender likes well-drained and alkaline soil.

Check with your local nursery for more gardening tips for your specific area. –Eds.

Natural Remedy Enthusiast

I tried the Horehound Cough Drops from your March 2012 issue and love them! Thanks for another natural remedy!

–Michele Pfaff, Via

You’re welcome! Be sure to read Make Your Own Medicine: Making Tinctures for another great “Make Your Own Medicine” recipe. –Eds.

Chocolate Basil

I have read in your articles that chocolate basil does not exist. However, I purchased a plant last summer identified as chocolate basil and it has wintered over. There is a strong chocolate scent when leaves are rubbed. Are there specimens as of 2012?

–Anita Seibel, Portland, Oregon

As far as we know, there is still no such thing as chocolate basil. But we would love to see your plant in person. Send a sprig to 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. –Eds.

Skin-Soothing Calendula Salve Correction

As many of our wonderful readers pointed out, the picture in our May 2012 issue, where we illustrated our Skin-Soothing Salve with Calendula recipe, actually showed a photo of marigold (Tagetes spp.) rather than calendula (Calendula officinalis). We regret this error. –Eds.