Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Harvesting, Pruning and Eating Your Basil Plants

A friend of ours was showing me his super healthy, potted herb garden.

I envy folks who live in houses. House gardens are much more conducive to gardening than most balcony gardens. Our balcony gets windy most days because of the height and proximity to the river so we get a lot of wind which causes the soil to dry out and harden.

Anyway, for anyone curious about how they can prune or harvest their basil to eat, I'm posting some pictures below of how we harvest ours. All varieties of basil, mint and rosemary thrives on being cut back so that their side buds can grow bushy. Pruning them to eat also prevents them from flowering so that you can enjoy eating them for several months.

It's tempting to let your beloved plants to grow unchecked and uneaten but before you know it, they'll start flowering and it's all over unless you cut all the blooms off before they start seeding and dying off. As you can see below, it doesn't matter where I cut, as long as I remove the flower and cut just above the leaves/shoot nodes:

 Cutting your basil or mint plants (it doesn't matter which variety you grow):

1. Decide how high you want your basil plant to grow and aim to lop off at the height you desire
2. Identify the two big fat leaves at the node and the little baby shoots growing from the stem
3. Cut just above the two big fat leaves and the baby shoots and lop the top off
4. Eat

As you can see, our dear friend Peanut, gave us this Thai basil plant months ago. It was too hard to eat Thai basil all the time so it ultimately started flowering because I wasn't pruning them back diligently. I've been stir frying, having basil in the soup, basil in rice paper summer rolls and have been taking a break from basil so they started flowering.

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