Q: Can you tell me how I will know when my basil and lavender are ready to cut and use?
— Karen Buchanan
A: You can harvest basil as soon as you have enough leaves for what you need, while still leaving enough on the plant to keep it alive. You can cut or pinch about one-third of the leaves off a young plant without harm.
Pruning produces a bushier, more productive plant, so continue to harvest basil throughout the growing season. Be sure to pinch off flower buds as soon as they appear so the leaves won’t become bitter.
The best time to harvest lavender depends on how you intend to use it. Jody Byrne of DayBreak Lavender Farm in Streetsboro has these recommendations:
For culinary purposes or for making dried bouquets or crafts using fresh lavender, harvest when the buds are purple and fat but still tight, with no flowers open. For dried wreaths and arrangements, harvest when the flowers start to open. If you want to dry the lavender for its fragrance, wait till half the flowers on the spike have withered, so the oil will be more concentrated.
It’s best to harvest lavender after noon on a lightly breezy, warm day, Byrne said. You want all dew to have dried off.
Have a question about home maintenance, decorating or gardening? Akron Beacon Journal home writer Mary Beth Breckenridge will find answers for the queries that are chosen to appear in the paper. To submit a question, call her at 330-996-3756, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to include your full name, your town and your phone number or email address.