Regular Maintenance of Your Basil

I've just learned that basil can ward off horn worms from tomato plants. So if you're growing tomatoes, go ahead and plant a basil plant, too. Extra bonus, tomato and basil go great together. It's a win-win. 

I live in a Mediterranean climate, much like the one where basil originates from. So, the care of my plant is pretty simple. It just needs adequate watering, 2-3 times a week, pruning, and plenty of sunshine. Today, I'm talking mostly about pruning basil. I'm definitely guilty of plucking leaves off my basil as need be. I'll just pull a few off here and there whenever I need them. 

There's definitely a healthier way to prune basil that will actually encourage the plant to grow. It's also really simple. You can pinch off the stems with your fingers or use scissors, if you have denser stems. I talked a little about basil maintenance in this post, but since so many people struggle with their basil, I thought I'd get more specific. 

Here's what you'll need:

  • Mature basil plant - at least 1/2 foot tall. 
  • Scissors

Directions:

  • Once your basil plant has matured and is ready to be pruned. Take your scissors and cut the middle stem. You may have more than one middle stem. In this case you can make several cuts. To spot this check for a stem growing up between two larger leaves like the picture above. Make your cut above the set of two leaves. 
  • Those two leaves will go on to branch out to larger stems. When this happens you will have a basil plant that grows larger and larger as you prune. 
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It's safe to prune your basil plant as often as you like. The pruning, when done correctly, encourages new growth. Like I said, I definitely pull a few leaves off here and there as needed, but make sure to give it a good pruning whenever needed. 

My basil hasn't started flowering, but if yours is, make sure to cut off the buds. They're edible, so you can add them to a salad or put them on a pizza. The reason you want to get rid of the flowers is because they will take much needed energy away from growing new leaves and put it into growing flowers. These flowers will eventually drain your plant. 

Maintaining basil is easy as long as it gets the 6-8 hours of sunlight it needs, plenty of water, and you make sure to use good pruning techniques (at least some of the time). 

 

Good luck!

I have a bunch of basil lying around. I've taken to just eating the leaves on their own, which is great for fresh breath, digestion, and is said to have a calming effect. 

Oven-Dried Tomatoes!

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Hi! This is another one of those posts where I have a redundant amount of pictures. I just couldn't get enough of the colors, that magical light that pops up early in summer evenings, the smell of rosemary and this song. I think that song has been my favorite for over a year now. 

Well, onto tomatoes. I wish I knew the variety, but they were a gift and I didn't ask. They are delicious though, I'm going to guess they're one of the pink cherry varieties because they're so sweet. I couldn't help but eat a few raw as I went along. Then I have one larger thrown in, just for the heck of it. 

I was inspired to make oven-dried tomatoes after the I ate the world's most delicious dipping sauce at a local Italian restaurant. I ended up throwing a few of these into some bread I made as well, but not all of them so keep a look out for dipping sauce. I've also got a mountain of fresh basil, so I'm thinking some kind of pesto variation would also be awesome. I'm really getting ahead of myself here, oven-roasted tomatoes are what I'm talking about. This is a time consuming project, they take way longer than garlic and bell peppers I did a while back, I'm guessing due to the super high water content, I also used grape seed oil in this recipe in contrast to the veggie oil. Although the smoke point for veggie oil is more ideal for this type of project the flavor that comes from the grape seed oil is well worth the extra effort. Also a super big tin of it was on sale at my grocery store, I got the last one, at least that's what I like to think. They probably just put one out at a time so everyone feels special for getting the last one. :)

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Here's what you'll need:

  • 4 cups of tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of grape seed oil 
  • 2 stems of rosemary - if you're using dried use about 1/2 a tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 200°
  • Cut any small tomatoes in half and large tomatoes into quarters, removing the stems.
  • Mix rosemary, pepper, garlic powder, and salt in a small dish to drizzle. The herbs will settle so make sure you have something to keep stirring it with. 
  • Place your tomatoes face up on a baking sheet and coat with oil mix.
  • Place inside the over expect them to dry for 6-8 hours and more if you live in a humid climate. You can prop the oven door open periodically to let moisture escape, although we are approaching July and I'm not sure you want all that heat in the house. 
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Some will cook a little faster than others. Like the little guys up there roasted up a bit faster than the larger ones, and you can pull they out as they're done. Check for a chewy, dry, flexible texture, similar to dried pears. 

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I told you I used some of mine in bread!! This one. was. so. good. They were all so good, but the salty egg wash I did on this one just made my heart melt. I'm gonna show you soon, promise, so good. 

Propagating Succulents From Leaves Part 2

Well, I hope you like pictures, because I've got a boatload. I also think this is the perfect post for the first day of summer, baby succulents! So, I started this project about a month ago. So if you want directions on starting your own, go ahead and click that link. This was a very simple project that required just a little bit of patience, sunlight and water. 

Really, all I did to maintain this project was use a spray bottle every 2-3 days to hydrate the leaves and keep them in a sunny spot. So, if you're looking for an easy summer time project this could be it. 

First, expect the roots to grown. Then as the roots start to brown, the pups will appear. Some varieties take longer for the roots to dry up completely. 

This super long pup just came off on its own. I guess it was ready to go. It's also the longest because it started before the rest. I actually found it growing in another one of my plants that was in a shady spot which accounts for how few leaves it has. 

I was surprised how each leaf grew at a different pace. Those long leaves took a very long time to sprout, but once they did, they really took off. Whereas those short serrated leaves are still growing very slowly, but they are growing.

I hope the pup turns out pink like the leaf. 

This might be my favorite picture of the series. I just love the clusters that have grown out of here. 

These pups aren't quite ready to be removed yet. I'll keep them where they are until they're a little bit bigger and ready to be transplanted. 

I started this leaf with the rest of them. I'm surprised how slowly it's growing. It may be because it's such a tiny leaf to begin with. I'm not sure though. 

Don't be worried if you have some duds. I know I did. I haven't given up on these completely. I'll definitely let them keep them to see if they'll sprout.