Putting off summer

Those of us in warmer parts of the U.S. are starting to see our basil plants flower, and experience if not book-learnin' will tell you that any plant you eat the leaves of (there's a name for that, I'm sure) gets bitter if you let it go to seed. We gave up our salad mix to the weeds weeks ago; despite our best intentions, the weeding just stopped being worth the effort. The half-dozen basil plants we put into our new bed (ultimately they all ended up in the ground) are lush and full.

We've stripped or broken off the flowering heads of our basil plants for years as we struggle against the inevitable march of summer and squeeze a few extra weeks of fresh herbs. This year we have a new tip: To most effectively stall flowering, break off not just the flowering tip but the top six inches or so of each flowering stem. The leaves are the day's harvest, and the pruning will encourage new leafy growth before the urge to flower resurges.

Try as we might, though, summer wins in the end. We'll make a huge batch of pesto this month and enjoy it through the summer months.


mahalie said...

Are you in Seattle? I've never gardened before and I think I put a bunch of seedlings in way too late...I have a basil that's no where close to this!

Jeremiah McNichols said...

No, we're in Central Texas. Gardenaut has bloggers from all over the country - you can see where each of us is located by browsing the map at upper right, or see the state or region we're from in the labels at the foot of each post.

Maybe our Seattle blogger, Joshua, might chime in with tips for basil in your region...