Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bushier Basil

I was amused the other day reading how Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman dislikes picking basil because of a fear of running out.  Ree, I'm totally laughing with you, not at you, because I often avoid picking my basil for the same reason!

While checking on my garden this morning I noticed that the basil is starting to bloom.  In order to keep the leaves tasting sweet, I need to nip this in the bud...literally.   The benefits to pinching back basil are two-fold.  One, the leaves stay tasting sweet and two, the plant starts to grow bushier instead of taller.

This is what my basil looks like while it is blooming.

Basil Flower

If I wanted to I could let it go in order to save seeds for next year, but I still want my basil to taste it's best so I'm pinching.  I'll start letting it go to seed in another month or so.  When I pinch back my basil, I pinch off flowers back to the next set of leaves to encourage bushier, not taller growth.  This results in more leaves and more leaves equal more pesto!

Basil Pinch

Basil is extremely easy to grow and there are some really attractive varieties.  I'm growing Mammoth, Sweet, and Red Rubin, the last of which is a beautiful burgundy color.  What types do you grow and what are some of your favorite uses for basil?

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