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July 20, 2010

Harvesting Basil multiple times is possible with the right cuttings


The basil is ready to harvest in my garden! I'm looking forward to some fresh pesto on pasta with vegetables, one of the great summer treats. I used to pull up the plants and pick off the leaves to make pesto. It's easy to freeze and it's wonderful to bring it out on a cold winter day for a taste of summer. And I don't use a recipe. I just add olive oil, parmasan and pine nuts to taste. Too sharp, use more pine nuts; too oily, use more basil and add more parmasan. Very easy. Salt to taste.

But recently someone told me that I can harvest the bottom leaves that grow along the stem before they get too large when they loose their potency. The best time to harvest is when the plant is four or five inches tall and you leave the top small leaves so that the plant continues to grow and more harvesting can be done. You have to take care not to damage the stem when you do this so you don't kill the plant. With this method you can harvest basil for seasonings and salads all summer long. I pick off the flowers when they start blooming and add nitrogen to produce more leafy growth.

There are at least 60 varieties of Basil. The most common are the Sweet basils:

  • Sweet, Genovese, Large-leaf, Mammoth

  • Purple foliage basils: Dark Opal, Purple Ruffles

  • Lemon basils: Lemon-Scented, Lemon, Sweet Dani

  • Others: Cinnamon basil, Spicy Bush, Camphor, Anise, Licorice

They vary in color and have amazing nuances of scent. What you buy in the store can't compare to picking basil fresh. It takes only 60 days to havest so you have time to get a planting in before a September frost or buy some seedlings!

At Sweet Large Leaf Italian Basil - 8 Plants - Herb

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Posted by Marilyn Renaker at July 20, 2010 5:10 AM
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