More Basil, Please

Basil in food processor_LAH_2355The summer is winding down and my harvest (well, except for the still-green tomatoes) is in full swing. Last month I made my first basil cuttings. Now it’s time for another one. And with any luck (and a late frost), I’ll reap one more before the plants freeze.

How do I get so much basil from just a few plants? It’s not hard—I just have to plan ahead. First, I start the plants early indoors. Second, when I pick the leaves, I make very intentional cuts in specific places. And finally, I don’t let the plants go to seed. Let’s look at each of these points more closely.

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Extending the Harvest

Tomato_DBG_20090915_LAH_0507As fall finally arrives, it’s time to think about early frosts and the end of the growing season. At our house, we are happily celebrating the end of the summer squash glut, and I have no plans to prolong that harvest. Our pole beans are looking a bit peaked, and production has stalled. We enjoyed a bountiful crop, so again, I’m happy to let them succumb to frost.

On the other hand, our tomatoes have just started ripening. (They wilted severely while we were evacuated for the Black Forest fire, and I think it set them back at least a month.) The huge plants are loaded with promising yellow, orange, and pale red fruit, and I’m unwilling to give up so close to our goal.

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Planning Your Veggie Garden: How Much Should You Plant?

264-wheelbarrow-of-veggies-closeupYour seed catalogs are well-thumbed by now. You have all your favorite varieties flagged, along with some new offerings you’re eager to try. After months of indoor weather, the gardening urge is looming large. It’s tempting to go overboard, and order every seed listed. Making a vegetable garden plan will help keep your cravings in proportion to your needs.

Even if you’re not much of a planner, some simple steps now will pay off in fewer problems and less work as the season progresses. I’ll start at the beginning: how big a garden should you grow? Cultivating more veggies than you can use increases your expenses, your work load, and your need for compost, water, and pest control.

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