Bye Bye, Basil

I started this blog with a few plants and a lot of hope. And as of today, no more. I am giving up on apartment gardening. I am trying to put a positive spin on this and think that it’s not really so much that I’m bad at keeping plants alive, as it is that I’m just that much more phenomenal at keeping little crawling things alive, but it’s not consoling me too much at the moment. In the absence of anything else living in my apartment, I’d actually grown rather attached to my plants, in a large part for the culinary aspect, but also because they made it look more homey and pretty. I kind of miss them, and I’m kind of worried on how this bears on me (if you cant keep a freaking plant alive, can I expect to be doomed if I ever get a puppy?). There have always been two things I really wanted for a superkitchen, an herb garden and a wine cellar, and I think clearly this is a sign of in which direction to focus my efforts.
Back in July, the boss brought me back a Key lime tree seedling as a souvenir of Florida – SSIB was there this year, and funding never made it through for me to go and present the poster with the prof. Let me tell you: I was excited. I’d seen them on Amazon and always sort of half wanted one, in that wow that’s exotic and would be nifty but is clearly not a necessity and therefore cannot be in the least bit justified sort of way. So you’re supposed to take this little seedling tree and repot him, water and feed him, and he’ll grow and possibly even bear you little Key limes. So off I went, gathered myself a pot for him, and another one for the cayenne plant (the cilantro, at this point, had long since joined the garden invisible) because it was straining its confines. I planted them and put them by the patio for the sun and watered them.
One week later, I go and water them. And I notice that there are little funny webby things on my cayenne plant. And the webby things have little tiny yellow specks. That are moving. And my plant leaves are drooping and brittle. While I promptly began freaking out about little things getting all over my carpet, Rob did some googling and found that I had spider mites. And they’re really hard to kill and more prolific than bunnies. Out went the cayenne plant. Upon close inspection, there were three little mites running around the edge of the Key lime tree, so after deliberation out it went. The tomatillo plant also landed in the dumpster for the sake of being thorough and because to be honest it hadn’t ever done much of anything anyways. We threw a baking soda solution on the carpet, because baking soda is awesome and does just about everything, vacuumed it up, and I sprayed some anti-bug stuff around to make me feel better.
And then there were two. After close inspection, they seemed fine – the Thai basil had a few little black spots on its leaves for the first time, but they weren’t moving and there were no webs, and the plant had been absolutely thriving. I swear they punished me for going away. I come back, and I see there are more little black specks. On webs. And yesterday some of the black specks started moving, and I’m calling it quits. I can’t prevent the mites, and I won’t keep a plant if I’m not going to eat it. I don’t know whether it’s something in the pot that happened when I replanted the cayenne and Key lime, or maybe it’s something by my window that landed on the basils. I bought all the pots at different times, and the mites are different colors so it doesn’t appear to have crossed over, but whatever - I’ve got a layer of baking soda on my windowsill to prevent anything around there (we found actually some very good tips from a cannabis growers’ site – those people are passionate about protecting their plants and are therefore highly dedicated to eradicating mites) but the plants are in the dumpster.
The basils were my favorites. I think my current plan is to get a large package of fresh leaves from TJ's and see if I can chop and freeze them without totally destroying the color and flavor. The Thai basil I really loved, in part for its novelty but also for its heady perfume, and rice would simply not be the same without it. So I did the only thing I could do, which was to get immediately onto importfood.com and order myself up a mess of Thai basil leaves, along with some Kaffir lime leaves (for all you skeptics, these ARE necessities), and look up how to freeze them. Wish me better luck.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

venders at farmers markets are selling basil by the bunch. I grow it but suppliment from the market...I make pesto, freeze it in ice cube trays, store the cubes in freezer bags and enjoy fresh basil flavor all year

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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11:18 PM  
Blogger Ed Tep said...

Emily - Ever since college, my green thumb for growing herbs indoors has gone brown. It seems that I can't manage to keep my herbs bug-free when I grow them indoors. Oh well, I guess both you and I are relegated to buying our herbs.

5:08 AM  

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