How to Harvest Basil

by / 14 Comments / 45354 View / May 13, 2016

How to Harvest Basil

 

Get more from your basil through harvesting. It’s simple — the more you pick the more it grows.

Here’s Why:

Basil, like most plants, benefits from pruning. Proper pruning encourages growth and makes for a healthier, fuller plant — especially when done correctly.

In terms of biology, the nodes at leaf and branching points are made up of what’s termed meristematic tissue. It holds highly equipped cells responsible for new growth. This is where new stems, leaves and flowers originate. That’s why it’s important to prune just above the nodes or branching points. If you prune midway down a stem for instance, that’s it, the opportunity for new growth is lost — because the cells in between the nodes (made up of somatic cells) are only programmed to be themselves.

 

How to Harvest Basil

 

Basically, pruning makes for a more dynamic and robust plant — encouraging the growth of fresh new leaves.

I’m sure you’ve noted, if left to it’s own devices and not trimmed, pruned or otherwise eaten basil will simply become leggy and go to flower. So, keep picking to prolong the leafing stage of your plant.

 

How to Harvest Basil

 

Here’s How:

When you need just a few leaves here and there to add to meals or drinks choose older leaves and pick leaves at the point where they meet the main stem, taking the leaf and leaf stem (petiole).

For a bigger harvest, for pesto for instance, take up to a 3rd of the plant by harvesting 2 to 3 nodes down the plant or down each stem of the plant. (See the above image, pick or prune just above the node — the intersection of stem and leaves.) Don’t take more than a 1/3 of the plant at one time. If conditions are right, you’ll soon have another crop of basil in the making.

You’ll also end up with a better product if your plant is well watered before picking. If you forget leaves can be hydrated in a bowl of water before use, just like lettuce. 

If your plant is looking as if it’s going to bolt or go to flower, pinch back the buds. This generally holds off flowering for a short while. However, flowering could also be a sign that conditions in the garden are changing. Evening temperatures may be dropping, the soil needs feeding or weather in general isn’t optimal.

Harvest your plant to the ground before the 1st hard frost.

How to Grow Basil

 

There’s no such thing as too much basil. #GrowWhatYouLove

Related post: Planting Tomatoes: 10 Tips for Growing a Bumper Crop

Related post: DIY Mason Jar Herb Garden

Related post: How to Grow More Vegetables With Less Space

14 Comment

  1. Great

  2. Can this plant be planted with mint and lemon grass. How much does this plant repel mosquitos?

    • Hi LaSherri,thanks for writing! Use varieties like African blue basil with your mosquito repellant planting combination. It’s pungent, with a stronger mint and camphor fragrance. It’s also a fabulous pollinator plant. Best of luck!

  3. Can you freeze basil? If so, how do you do it?

    • Hi Stella, great to hear from you! There’s more than one way to freeze basil and the way you choose to freeze it will depend on how you’d like to use it later. A common way to freeze whole leaves it to blanche it, chill it, let it dry and then freeze in an airtight container. First wash your basil and prepare a bowl with ice water. Next bring a pot of water to boil on the stove, blanche leaves for a couple seconds and place immediately in ice bath to cool. Remove from ice bath, wait until basil is thoroughly dry and then seal and freeze. Try placing basil on a cookie sheet to dry and also try to be patient. Works best if completely dry. Basil can also be frozen in ice cubes as well as cleaned, chopped and prepared with olive oil before freezing. Best of luck!

  4. Living in northern mid-west, basil will not survive the winter in the garden like my oregano and mint. I would like to bring the plant indoors for the winter months. Last time I tried this with another plant I had an outcropping of small bugs – think gnats. Any suggestions on transitioning from outdoor crop to indoors?

    • Hi Tracy, Thanks for writing! I know these small bugs – so pesky! Basil is susceptible to white flies and other pests. Best to spray them down with water to knock bugs off and try a diluted solution of soapy water to kill what’s left. If it’s a severe problem, quarantine plants before bringing them in. Italian basil tends to be short lived, so bringing it inside will give you a few more weeks or months until you’ll need to reseed. There are other basils, like African Blue Basil, that are perennial. You may want to give a few different varieties a try to see what grows best in your indoor environment. Hope this helps! Happy growing! 😉

  5. I have basil that needs to be replanted, but I think it needs to have some harvested. Is it better to harvest and immediately re-plant or re-plant and let it settle into the new pot and soil then harvest/ Or maybe none of the above?
    Thanks for any advise,

    • Hi Pat, great question! Thanks for writing. Harvesting when replanting or potting up is good. This will help the plant focus on establishing new roots and recover from any possible shock associated with transplanting – plus you’ll have leaves to eat in the mean time. Water it well and keep it out of intense heat/sun for a few days for best results. Good luck! 😀

  6. I’ve learned something. What do I do if its gone to flower? Thanks

    • Hi Angelica, thanks for writing! Happy to hear the article has helped – the more basil the better! 🙂 If your basil has gone to flower you can pinch off the flowering heads or prune it the same way explained in the article. If it’s leggy from flowering, pruning will help stimulate growth. If it’s so leggy it’s wrapping up its lifecycle, there’s still time to grow more basil especially if you find a start at your nursery or grocery. Best of luck!

  7. Love this! The pictures of where and what to harvest really helped

    • Wonderful! Thanks a bunch for writing, I’m so happy to hear the post and images are helpful! 😀

Your Commment

Email (will not be published)