I love fresh basil. I cook with it a minimum of once a week. But, as much as I adore it, I also abhor it. Basil is my archnemesis.
Let’s start with the simple act of purchasing it at the grocery store. You buy the only big, green, fragrant lovely bunch that has no signs of mold in the entire store. You take it home. If you don’t use it up within 48 hours, you’re left with gooey puddle of black mush. And I’ve tried storing it in baggies, not in baggies, in the fridge, out of the fridge, in water, not in water, you name it. The best method seems to be: countertop, in water. But even then, you get 4 days, tops.
This leads me to the other issue. All this throwing-out-of-black-mush led me to the conclusion that it might be more cost-effective and less wasteful to grow my own basil.
I’ve been attempting that one for 6 years now.
Basil likes sun. But, not too much sun. And it likes heat. But not too much heat. It also needs a lot of water. But, whoa there, not too much water. And you too can grow basil from seed! Provided it gets *just the right touch* of heat, sun and water.
This last time, I thought I had it nailed. My little basil seedlings (purchased at the garden center, already grown, because SCREW that from-seed idea) were sitting on the windowsill in the kitchen, minding their own business. Lots of sun, not too much heat, right there for me to monitor the moisture of the soil and water accordingly. And then, the leaves start disappearing. I don’t mean falling apart, I mean disappearing. And there’s this suspicious black dust all over the windowsill, and in the sink below.
This morning it had gotten to the point that I needed to investigate. I brushed off some of the black dust, and then shook the plant a little.
Two big, fat caterpillars fall into the sink. I mean BIG. I mean FAT. At least an inch long, diameter of a pencil eraser. I’m having a hard time figuring out how they got into my kitchen, and at this point sort of think they came home with me from the garden center. And the black dust? I’m surmising that it’s caterpillar poop.
Little shits have eaten at least a dozen leaves between the two of them over the past week. The same caterpillars we find in the yard eating dandelions. These ones are FEASTING on my fresh basil. So, even when all systems are a-go, something happens to rob me of my basil.
I’m going to attempt to bring this plant back to life. This LEAFLESS plant. But, if I can’t, I’m at a loss. What is the lesser of two evils: throwing away half the basil you purchase at the grocery store, or getting to use about the same amount from your own herb garden, only to have to start over with a new plant every month?