I was out at the supermarket last week and thinking of making some pesto. The only problem- my little basil plant hasn’t quite reached the size where I’d feel comfortable taking a ton of leaves from him all at once.
So I did something totally unusual for me- I wandered over to the fresh herbs section of the store. This is where the supermarket puts fresh versions of things like basil, thyme, cilantro, and parsley. Usually it’s right next to the salad stuff, or else with organics.
There was a moment of serious sticker shock- I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Having bought my little basil plants just 2 weeks back, I still had the prices of basil plants in my head.
Smallest: about $1, sold in those little sets of 4
Medium plants: $2.50 – $3 (about 3in tall)
Large plants: $4-$5 (well established, ready for plucking)
I usually go with a smaller plant, because I am a master pruner and like to shape them my own way rather than whatever Home Depot’s default is. The pruning on the larger plants is often sloppy, with top-heavy tall ones being sold in the stores.
So anyway, what I noticed is this. It’s actually more expensive to buy “fresh” packaged dead/dying basil leaves than to buy an entire living plant. The fresh herbs were going for $3.99!!! I couldn’t believe it. Who is actually buying this?
If it were winter, your plants were dead, and you needed pesto ASAP I could understand. But it’s May people!
It is cheaper to buy a basil plant and immediately chop all leaves off and kill it, than to buy the same amount of basil at a supermarket. Not rocket science here.
But, assuming you want your basil to live past the first collection, here’s how to eek some more leaves out of it.
Choosing a plant:
Planting a basil plant:
Collecting and Pruning: