Triad -- When you need a little basil, it's fun to be able to run out the back door and pick it fresh. The trick can be picking herbs at the right time.
Here are some guidelines from the North Carolina Extension Service at NCSU:
- Begin harvesting the herb when the plant has enough foliage to maintain growth. Up to 75% of the current season's growth can be harvested at one time.
- Harvest early in the morning, after the dew dries, but before the heat of the day.
- Harvest herbs before flowering, otherwise, leaf production declines.
- Herb flowers have their most intense oil concentration and flavor when harvested after flower buds appear but before they open.
- Herb flowers harvested to dry for craft purposes should be picked just before they are fully open.
- Annual herbs can be harvested until frost.
- Perennial herbs can be clipped until late August. Stop harvesting about one month before the frost date. Late pruning could encourage tender growth that cannot harden-off before winter.
- Harvest tarragon or lavender flowers in early summer and then shear the plants to half their height to encourage a second flowering period in the fall.
North Carolina Extension Service at NCSU