C00KiE46
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How to pick basil?

This is my first time growing herbs. My basil is the only herb that grew in my garden. How do I pick basil? I want it to continue growing. Can i pick from it yet?
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Susan W
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Pick away!! Look at the stem and you will see pairs of branches coming off. Pick just above one of those pairs. Those 2 get more and bigger and you can by next week cut back on those. Try not to let the basil bloom, which it does off the top.
Hope this helps!
Have fun!
Susan

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applestar
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As Susan said, you don't want them to bloom, so if you see any with different kinds of "leaves" actually bracts/buds developing, harvest those first.

Often my "basil harvest" consists of cutting off all the budding tips.

Remember not to cut off more than 1/3 of each stem and not more than 1/3 of the entire plant at a time.

alexia.brake
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Awesome looking basil! Wish my look that good, though my are in containers or under tomatoe plants. Some have been eaten on by "the bugs"so on one hand that's better than my tomatoe plants.

Do you make pesto with your basil?
unlocking the mystery of growing the "perfect tomato" (without losing my mind)

C00KiE46
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^^^Thanks :) I haven't made pesto yet but that is the reason why I wanted to grow basil for PESTO. Can't wait to make some. I found that when I grew basil in the ground that it thrived. At first I tried pots, which I tried growing from seed that they did not do well. I had better luck growing in ground.

philm00x
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what's bad about the basil blooming? does it stop growing if it does?
Pineapples are my favorite.

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rainbowgardener
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Yes, once it's blooming it tends to concentrate on making flowers not leaves and once it sets seed then it is done for the year.
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gixxerific
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rainbowgardener wrote:Yes, once it's blooming it tends to concentrate on making flowers not leaves and once it sets seed then it is done for the year.
No offense RBG :hide:

But are you sure on that? I have basil all over the place, enough that it is hard to keep up with. Most if not all of it has gone to seed several times. I have been trying my best to pinch of the flowers. But even at that I still have been cutting back and harvesting quite a bit. It goes right back to flower but I just do it all over again. I figure it might not be the best for pesto but I have been drying it all and chopping it up for a dry spice. It is still pretty awesome for cooking. My plants are getting huge since I have been cutting them back at the intersections.

Now I'm not sure they have SET seed but they have had some huge flowers on them.

But back on topic you should harvest before it goes to seed. But others have told me that it doesn't matter if it does. Nice looking basil I might add. You just gotta love basil.

philm00x
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i always did wonder how to get my basil to grow more leaves... for a while it seemed to have just stopped. it got taller, but the quantity of leaves didn't look like it changed, so it looked bare at the bottom as the stems grew. i picked some off to make a pizza last week, and already new leaves have been growing out of the stems very quickly. there are still a couple of tall stems i haven't picked from because i was told not to pick too much off at one time.
Pineapples are my favorite.

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rainbowgardener
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You don't want to pick more than about 1/3 of the plant at one time.

But yes generally the more you keep cutting it back, the more it grows. If you never pick/ cut, you will get a lot less basil. The more flower buds/ flowers you cut off the more it keeps trying to make flowers (which is of course its mission in life!). But if it goes all the way through its cycle to setting, maturing, and dropping seeds, it is pretty much done. Not that it will die instantly, but it will tend to quit producing.
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z
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Some people like to scoop a whole lot off in one go, so chopping the whole top "rows" of leaves as if dragging ascythe over an overgrown patch of grass. Then they chop up the resultant mass of leaves. Personally, I just wait until I'm cooking, walk over to the plant and snip off individual leaves or take them between thumb and forefinger. You are left with bare stalks where the leaves were but somehow the basil grows so quickly that this is hardly noticeable until towards the end of the season. A good tray of basil sown in January should last about a year with continuous foliage.

gardengrl3
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My basil is staring to flower also-is there any way to save it?? Once it starts to flower will it not produce again in time??
Get digging!

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applestar
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The character of the leaves becomes more tough and leathery. some people say more bitter. It's OK to harvest them. flowers are great sprinkled over salad or pasta. Immature seeds are kind of nutty/ crunchy.

I always hesitate because bees love the flowers. A lot of mine are flowering and going to seed. Then I start thinking I want to make sure some of them matures enough to harvest seeds for next year.

I also cut them back hard and pot them up to bring inside -- in fact will need to do that soon -- ideally you want to do this about a month before below 60* temp nights start when basils have to be brought inside although I've unceremoniously uprooted and potted up in haste on the day of.

:roll: :wink:

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rainbowgardener
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gardengrl3 wrote:My basil is staring to flower also-is there any way to save it?? Once it starts to flower will it not produce again in time??
It's fine, mine has been trying to flower for months. Just keep cutting back all the budding stems. I do let a few flowers go for the bees, and a little bit later in the season, I think I will let a few go to seed to try saving the seed (which I've not done with basil seed before).

I don't harvest mine as early as AS and I haven't tried over wintering it inside. I don't have any really good light for it inside, but may try one this year anyway.

When it's getting cold enough that the basil is starting to die back, I just pull the plants, hang some to dry and turn the rest into pesto. My basil suffers through lots more cold, than AS's tenderly cared for plants. We are going to have one of those 60 nights this week, but the basil will keep going for several more weeks...
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lily51
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Beautiful basil! Some people think that letting it flower lessens the flavor. This is true for several herbs. I use my daughters' electric food dehydrator. Just remove the leaves from the stems, rinse, dry for a couple hours until crispy. Then put them in a plastic bag and crush.

I have done sweet basil this way, purple opal (licorice flavor/aroma) and other herbs. My daughter makes great blends of herbs this way.
Small glass jars with twist-on lids can be used for storage.

This is a better way than drying by air, as it doesn't get moldy or mildewy. Microwaves don't seem to do a good job, but maybe it's just me.
Enjoy your basil!

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rainbowgardener
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Or the old fashioned way is just hang the stems upside down inside a paper bag until dry. At the end of the season, I just pull up the whole plant and hang it that way.

This year I will dry some, make some into pesto, and bring at least one plant in to see if I can over-winter it.
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