Basil is one of those wonderful garden plants that just keeps coming. Unlike radishes and beets that are done once you harvest them, basil plants provide their pungent goodness for months if you can stay on top of them. Basil should be harvested regularly to prevent flowering. To do so, simply use scissors to trim off the upper leaf clusters, making your cut close to the set of leaves below. New growth will sprout from this point so you can continue to harvest throughout the season.
Here’s a basil plant ready for harvesting. The flower buds are just starting to form:
This is what a plant looks like after the harvest:
You want to make sure to leave some green growth so that the plant can do its photosynthesis thing, but the plant will be noticeably smaller.
Healthy basil plants will need to be harvested every week or so. I have almost a dozen plants and these provide enough basil every time I harvest to make two batches of pesto – one to eat fresh, one for the freezer.