how to: prune a basil bush

when i first started gardening, i was terrified to touch my bushy basil plants.  i knew i didn't want them to flower, but other than that, knew nothing more.  after a few seasons of gardening, i finally think i have a handle on this awesome herb & want to share how to prune back (this is not for the meek) a basil bush.
did you know that basil bushes like to be trimmed?  like roses, the more often they're pruned back, the better the harvest.  for years, i'd let my basil plant grow big and tall only taking care to remove any flowers (these stunt the basils growth and turn the leaves sour) & harvesting leaves as i needed them.  then, at the end of the season, i'd tear apart the plant for my annual tomato basil soup harvest, knowing the cold would kill the basil before i had a chance.

this year however, was different.  when initially picking out our starter plants from a local garden center, i overheard a woman telling her presumably granddaughter, to cut back her basil regularly once the plant was large enough to harvest.  she then proceeded to say how this method, in the long run, would produce more basil.  i was in awe & decided to try that technique in our garden.

& now, here i am, sharing that overheard knowledge (& godsend) with you.

1. find young leaves just above the bottom 2-3 sets of leaves.  most likely, these young thangs are growing with some older leaves as well.  feel free to use your discretion.  in some cases, i cut a bit further up since the stalk was a little wonky.
2. using scissors or pruning shears, make the first cut.  don't be nervous.  the stalk is going to look short and pathetic (but they thrive under those conditions).  instead, focus on the massive amount of leaves you're holding in your hands & think of all the yummy things you can make with them.
3. repeat throughout the entire plant.  by now you're nerves should be gone and the plant should be looking mighty stumpy (as your pile of cut basil continues to grow).
that's it!  super easy once you get the hang of it & over your initial i'm a plant killer guilt.  as mentioned above, they actually really like it.  and don't be surprised if your basil starts growing larger leaves at a quicker pace than it did before.
depending on your gardens conditions (sunlight, critters, water, etc.), try to prune back your basil every 4 weeks.  trust me, you'll be at a loss with what to do with all your basil!

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