August 24, 2012

Keep Your Basil Deadheaded for longer Season

ready to deadhead
It's August and here in zone 6b and the basil is trying to bloom. If  I want my Pesto Sauce and my Basil and Tomato Salad not to mention lots to dry and freeze for winter, I have to keep those blooms from happening (deadhead). Basil gets leggy and tough if allowed to bloom. The ones at the top of this post have gone further than I would like but are still going to be OK.  The one to the right is just right to snip.

I use my little flower snips for this but plain scissors will do the job too. I look for a leaf node just under the bloom that has started to put out leaves on either side of the stem. This will force the plant to make new branches and leaves. See the picture below of before and after the "snip". By the way, that little bloom and leaves you cut off make a very nice garnish for soup, salad or almost any fresh veggie. My Grandma would say, "Waste not - want not."  :-)

after snip

I do let my basil bloom later in the fall. I wait until late fall and then I allow them all to bloom and make seeds before our first cold weather sets in. I don't want it to frost before they make seed heads. This way most of them will self-sow right in place for next year. You can also harvest the seeds to plant inside in early spring to get a jump on summer.

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