I hate to admit it, but last spring my basil fell victim to neglect. Overzealous garden planning in January, followed by a frenzy of seed-starting, left me in a June panic. So many seedlings to get in the ground, so little time to do it. The basil seedlings, some of the last plants to leave the warmth and protection of my light stand indoors, were hastily set outside the kitchen door while I turned my attention to getting tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings in the ground. For a couple of days, the basil plants looked just fine. By the time I had the chance to give them a second thought, the damage was done. Their tender leaves were literally scorched from the harsh noonday sun, and the plants had turned brownish and sickly. I had done nothing to ease their passage into the real world.
Amazingly, those basil seedlings recovered, but by not hardening them off properly, I set them back considerably. Luckily, I didn’t treat all my young plants so poorly. By and large, I’ve learned that some planning and attention up front, as well as a watchful eye once they’re in the ground, will help seedlings grow into healthy, productive plants. And when ambitious intentions do get away from me, it’s comforting to know that all plants strive to grow, bear fruit, and set seed, despite an occasional lapse on the part of the gardener.