Basil – Nature’s Weather Station

Last week the weather stations were forecasting freeze warnings. The nights were cold and some in the lower Susquehanna valley did a freeze, but not me. The garden had a touch of frost, but nothing that killed all of the plants.

While the growing season is coming to an end, I like to know when a light frost and a killing frost have hit the garden. Over the years I learned that there’s one plant that’ll let me know what’s been happening in my yard and it’s much more accurate than any weather report. That plant is basil.

Basil After a Light Frost

Basil After a Light Frost

At this time of the year I find that basil doesn’t have quite the same flavor that it did in August and early September. But I always leave at least one basil plant in the vegetable garden to use as a frost indicator.¬†Basil is very sensitive to cold weather. The lightest frost will cause some of the plants leaves to turn from green to a brown-black color. There is no way that you can miss the effects of frost on a basil plant.

While there was talk of freezing weather, the vegetable garden only got a light frost. I could tell because only the top of the basil plant was brown while the rest looked fine. Pepper plants right next to the basil were untouched – even though they’re sensitive to frost, they’re not as sensitive to it as basil.

You can spend a lot of money to set up a weather station to monitor the high and low temperatures in the garden. But if you just want to know when the first frost has come, you can’t go wrong with basil. You can enjoy this herb all season long and then use it as a living weather station that will let you know when the first frost comes to your location.


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