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Does basil bolt? other basil questions too

How do you get basil to be bushy? My plants seem kinda small.
 
Basil eventually wants to produce seeds, so flower stalks appear. If you keep them cut off you can still use the leaves, unlike other herbs ie cilantro, whose leaves become inedible once the flowers appear.
 
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We raise a few hundred basil plants for the pesto we sell at the farmer's market, and this year they're being a little pokey. I think it's the dry May we had, and we don't irrigate it.

Some say to pinch off the flower tips lest the basil turn bitter, but it's impossible to do this in our case, and we've never noticed a change in flavor. Italian large-leaf we grow, along with cinnamon basil, and globe basil for decoration in the flower gardens. Everything's doing well except the large-leaf. I guess Ma Nature is in charge. :^O

Some like to dry it, but taste suffers greatly. We freeze it in olive oil and use it all winter. No flavor loss at all.
 
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Mine have been slow and just started to put on height this week. I pinch out the top, which allows the two side stems to grow. When these get six leaves I pinch each side stem again and so on. If you keep pinching each branch before they get seven leaves, you will keep it from flowering. If you wait until flowering to pinch, it will keep trying to flower rather than leaf out. Toward the end of the season I am getting a lot of basil just from pinching off. Pick leaves in the morning for the best flavor, before the oils evaporate. Once they flower, they lose a lot of the flavor also.
 

Abigail, all 9 kids grown and 16 little gardeners: what a harvest!

Zone 7a, Far Rockaway, New York

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Pinch,pinch,pinch. Try adding a little to a salad, that'll help you bear pinching the only stem!
 
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my friend got me into gardening for the first time this year and his basil is much taller and bushier than mine. But what I do to make it bushier is use it often.....when I use it, I cut about half way down the stem. When it gets cut, it makes up for it by producing multiple stems within the same stem.

This is very productive for me. Check it out....Or someone else in the forum may have better advice. They have helped me out tremendously. Trust me when I say these people know what they are talking about


Thanks all!
 
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That's a really nice post. Thank you for cheering me up on a personal dark day.

Smiler
 
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I always pinch my basil flowers off as often as possible, but it is usually impossible to keep up with them. The flower stalks may actually be used in recipes, and I have seen some calling for them as opposed to leaves. I have cut them into 1/4" pieces and put them into a Thai curry at the end, and it is difficult to tell the difference between that and using leaves. This is esp. good with the purple leaves of Thai basil.

At the end of every season I pull all of my basil when frost threatens, clean, spin dry, and grind up in my food processor with just enough olive oil to make a paste, then freeze it, to use during the winter. I freeze it in little popsickle makers, with about 1/4 c/container, then pull one out when needed. It is almost the perfect amount for a Thai curry made with 3 cans coconut milk.

Dave
 

Dave    in Woodbury, NJ  zone 6B

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