Plucking the basil leaves affects the aroma, growth, and lifespan of the Mediterranean herb plant. The following practical instructions will show you how to harvest royal cabbage correctly.
Occasional picking damages the Basil
Due to the intense aroma, only a small amount of basil is usually needed in the family kitchen. As a result, there is a great temptation to only pluck individual leaves. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re acting out of misunderstood thrift. If a branch is robbed of its leaves by gradual plucking, this circumstance heralds its immediate death.
In addition, tentative plucking of the leaves does not prevent flowering. When basil blooms, the lovely aroma is gone in a short time, turning into a bitter taste. At the same time, the basil invests all its strength in the growth of flowers and seeds, so that the herb plant is doomed to die.
If you want to harvest basil properly, you are doing substantial maintenance work to ensure a long lifespan. Since the plant is already aiming for the first flowering 8 weeks after sowing, an alternative harvesting technique to individual picking is required.
Harvest basil the right way – don’t make a mess
Sporadic leaf plucking should be the exception. The wonderful herbal plant is much more beneficial to a more courageous approach. How to do it right:
- always cut whole shoot tips to a length of 5-7 centimeters (2-3 inches)
- do not pick, but cut with a sharp knife
- start the cut just above a pair of leaves so that further branches sprout here
- of complete branches leave at least one pair of eyes on the plant
As long as a minimal remnant with one or two leaf knots remains of a shoot, basil will busily sprout again. Cutting off the shoot tips also promotes compact, bushy growth and prevents flowering.
Of course, it’s no drama if you pick a single leaf as you pass by as a small herbal snack. In this case, preferably choose an older, dark green leaf with the highest aroma content.
Choose the perfect time
The connoisseurs among home gardeners know the importance of the best time of day if they want to harvest basil properly. During the early morning hours, the herbal aroma is at its highest level. This is especially true if the royal herb has just been watered.
Harvest the flowers properly as a feast for the eyes and the palate
The basil blossom knows how to stage itself so decoratively that it is definitely welcome in the bed and on the balcony. Depending on the variety, a radiant white, soft pink, or violet flower pile develops. If you pick the flower stalks, they are ideal for the vase or as a natural bouquet.
Not enough, the flowers are edible. The enchanting labial flowers inspire the home cooks to create seductive decorations on salads, soups, and other dishes. Due to the slightly tart taste, they are used for culinary purposes in the form of basil blossom vinegar.
Store the harvest surplus wisely
If you follow the recommendation to harvest basil regularly, you will benefit from the long shelf life of the popular herbal plant throughout the summer. This is accompanied by the question of how to use the surplus harvest. Rich royal herb is far too valuable to throw away in the compost. These storage options are available:
- Air dry, in the oven, or in a dehydrator
- Freeze fresh basil as whole leaves or finely puree with olive oil
- Harvest whole shoots, pluck the leaves, and soak in salt, vinegar or olive oil
It is important to remember to thoroughly clean the leaves under running water after picking. Then pat dry with a kitchen towel before proceeding to the next steps. If you freeze or preserve the king cabbage, cut off the leaf stalks first.
Harvest basil seeds properly
Forward-looking hobby gardeners will sooner or later allow their basil to bloom. If the blooming herbal plant adorned the bed, the balcony, or the window sill, it has not yet shot its botanical powder. Abundant seed pods develop beneath the wilting flowers. These provide ample material for propagation by seed. How to get the seeds:
- pluck the withered flower stalks and pluck withered leaves
- Strip the dried flowers from the stalks over a plate
- Sieve the mixture of seeds and flower remains several times
The small black seeds remain. Stored in a sealable container in a cool place, they are sown next spring.
Does your mood lift when you smell the scent of fresh basil? Then benefit from the high content of linalool, nature’s feel-good substance. The colorless substance is contained in many essential oils and is now also used by the cosmetics industry to create mood-boosting fragrances.