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Garden Q&A: Why is my basil turning brown? And how does one repair tire marks in a yard?

Basil downy mildew, shown on the middle clippings, is a new imported disease afflicting basil leaves with yellowish patches on the top surface and the fuzzy gray growth on the underside that become brown and dead. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun
Basil downy mildew, shown on the middle clippings, is a new imported disease afflicting basil leaves with yellowish patches on the top surface and the fuzzy gray growth on the underside that become brown and dead. - Original Credit: For The Baltimore Sun (Dave Clement / HANDOUT)

My basil has been a disaster this summer. I replanted and it died again. My neighbor’s basil is fine. Look at the difference!

Your basil has basil downy mildew. This is a relatively new imported disease that’s here to stay. Symptoms are subtle at first, but inevitably the yellowish patches on the top leaf surface and the fuzzy gray growth on the underside become brown and dead.

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Fortunately, new resistant varieties like your neighbor’s are already becoming available. That’s the way to go for home gardeners. Next year try one of the new resistant varieties: Prospera, Amazel, Pesto Party and ones developed by Rutgers University named Obsession, Devotion, Thunderstruck and Passion.

This spring I got a new shed and the deliveryman drove a flatbed truck onto my lawn, which was not as dry as I thought. The pivoting tires dug 3-4 inches gouges in the lawn. I tried to push down the humps when the soil was wet then, but I am worried about serious soil compaction affecting future grass.

When the soil is neither wet nor dry but slightly moist, take a garden fork and gently lift up the areas that became compacted from the tires. In areas that go 4″ or deeper, you may need to lift the existing grass and place some soil underneath and then replace the grass overtop. Seed bare spots. You are in luck, because early fall is the premier time to seed a lawn.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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