Holy Basil and I have a love/hate relationship on the farm.  To avoid being overly negative, I will start with why I love it.

                        • Holy Basil is resilient and saves me a ton of work. It needs very little weeding.
                        • It is a great summer filler in our flower arrangements and brings a great aroma that guests do not expect.
                        • The #1 reason is that our bees love it. Keep bees happy, Keep farm happy.
                        • It is a very unexpected element in our decor. We hang the basil plants in Harvest at the end of the season.





Rick holding up a Holy Basil bush on a farm tour with Goddard schools to demonstrate the size.


Now, here is what everyone should know before you grow it:

  • It is extremely invasive

As you can see, the good outweighs the bad so therefore, I grow it.  To say I grow it is a joke.  I stop fighting it, is a better way to put it.

Holy basil grew at the farm before I had the pleasure of working there and has always been an important part of the farm for the sake of our bees.  When the basil is in bloom it is beautiful.  The basil fills in our rows nicely and as I mentioned it blocks weeds from growing.

This year, I wanted to expand our herbs and keep our harvesting of herbs efficient.  In order to accomplish this, I decided to plant all herbs in the same section of the farm.  I should also say this was my first spring on the farm, so I had no previous experience attempting to manage the basil.  I knew this was the area where it grew, but I had this bold idea that I would be able to control the basil and keep my rows nice and orderly.  I had no clue how impossible this task would turn out to be for me.







Harvesting the holy basil before we hang and dry it in Harvest.

I planted several herbs that I raised from little seeds and showered with love. They grew into a mine field.  I did okay for a while fighting back the basil attack but was detoured when the farm became a swamp.  When my back was turned the basil kicked into high gear as the weather started to warm.  By the time I came out of the rain trenches, it was too late.  Basil had won the fight.

At some point I remembered that the bees are in love, and I gave in.  I decided to reserve my energy for a different battle and allow the little patch of basil and bees to live happily ever after.  As I have started preparing for fall planting and spring flowers, I have decided that I am going to continue that idea of reserving my energy.

As a collective, we will never remove the basil.  We use it for too much in our organization and again, we keep our bees happy.  This year, as I start planning where I will plant for 2022, I will not plant anything in that area that will fight a losing battle with the basil.  The basil is at its maturity in late summer, so I can plant some beets, onions, or other crops that will be harvested before July.  I am going to work with the basil next year and not against it.

Holy Basil hanging in Harvest. We pull all the Holy Basil plants before the first freeze and hang them in Harvest.

If you decide to grow a little Holy Basil in your garden, just know that every flower has seeds.  We cut the whole plant down in the fall, dry them, and then hang them in the back of Harvest as decoration.  This is probably the key to our problem.  We love it when they go to flower.  Again, remember the bees.

I tip my hat to you Holy Basil.  You were here before me, and I will respect your space.  Just please stay in that space.