Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Basil Maintenance

Once in a while, YouTube brings up a suggested video that teaches you something you should have sought out yourself.

I've been blindly growing my basil for years.  I got the seeds free when I went to see the Rose Parade floats and MiracleGro was a sponsor.  When the plants got too big for the free pot they gave me, I moved them outside into a much larger pot.  Since then, I've just let them grow as they wish, flower, and die in the fall.  The blossoms make seeds, which fall into the pot, and every spring new basil plants grow.

Apparently, that's not how it's supposed to work.  When the plants go to seed, the leaves get thin and less flavorful.  My plants never look like the lush ones you see in the market with wide leaves.  That requires you to do some actual gardening.  Who knew?

Now, whenever a branch starts to form flowers, I prune them.  I just go down a few sets of leaves to where I see some side buds forming and snip off that top few inches.  Those little leaves now have incentive to form their own branches.  I've only done it twice, and already I can see the difference.  The plants look a lot healthier.  Plus, it provides for a generous basil harvest every couple of weeks.  If I can't think of a culinary use for them immediately, I can go pull out some mint and made basil/mint tea.  Or, they can be hung up to dry for some eventual pesto.

Within a month, I'll let one go to seed so it can make next year's seeds.  I love this system.  I wish all my plants were this easy to recycle.  Well, then there's Eggy.  I actually want her to die this fall so I can put some celery in there.  We'll see what happens.

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