I love to color my vegetable garden beds with lots of flowers. Coneflowers, Zinnias, Marigolds and Coreopsis and others add pops of bright color to my drab raised beds made of weathered gray wood filled with rich brown soil. I plant a few annuals throughout the garden, but I mainly rely on perennials to provide fierce color year after year. To keep my flowers blooming beautifully, there’s one simple thing I do consistently – and that’s deadheading. Deadheading is a weird name for ‘cutting off the flower’. It only takes a few minutes of my time, but it’s a true game changer.
Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow. It’s an easy plant to grow indoors and out. I have a pot of basil growing right outside my kitchen and it requires very little maintenance which is perfect for my busy schedule. The most I have to do, other than an occasional watering when Mother Nature needs help, is to pinch off the tiny flowers that bloom every few days.
I usually look in on my herb garden in the morning before work while sipping my coffee. Generally only 2-3 flowers need pruning, which only takes a couple of minutes, and adds a few minutes of calm before the start of my day.
When plants flower, they use up energy to produce seeds that would otherwise be used to grow leaves. So if left alone, the stems with flowers will grow tall and leggy with sparse leaves. But if you snip off the flowers, the stems branch off and the plants grows fuller and bushier because it’s now refocused on producing more leaves.
It’s amazing to see the new shoots grow and transform your plant into a bushy, delicious version of itself. I find all kinds of ways to use my basil leaves. Of course, there’s pesto and pasta sauce. I also add fresh basil on top of my homemade pizzas and sprinkled along with garlic on oven roasted tomatoes.
On hot summer days, I love to prepare infused water. I simply fill a large Mason jar with water, add cucumbers and fresh basil leaves and refrigerate for a couple of hours. It’s so refreshing – and reminds me of beverages I’ve had at a spa. When I finish drinking the whole jar, I refill it with water and refrigerate again. It’s just as good the second time around!
When I grow more basil than I can eat, I either give it to my mom, freeze it or dry it. I hate waste, so throwing out excess basil is a last resort. But on the occasion that I do need to toss out some, it goes into my compost bin to make “black gold” for next year’s garden.
What tips do YOU have for growing basil? Do tell….
Peace and zen,