Now that you have a full blown window herb garden it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor and harvest the herbs for cooking.
Throughout the growing season it’s important to cut back the herbs regularly to encourage branching and new growth. But you can also cut them whenever you need fresh herbs. Generally, a good rule of thumb is not to cut more than one-third of the stem’s length and leave about 2/3rds of the whole herb plant so it will continue growing.
Although there are some general tips for harvesting herbs to for immediate use or drying them for future recipes, I’m focusing on my 2 main herbs - Basil and Parsley:
Harvesting Basil: read how or see how:
The key is to cut right in the sweet spot where you see some baby leaves sprouting. Once you chop off the big leaves on top, the small ones will grow out and be ready for cutting in a few more days. And the circle of life* continues…
Harvesting Parsley: read how or see how:
A little harder to see, but cut near the bottom of the stems that are fully grown. See the baby parsley stem poking out beneath the scissor cut? That will keep growing out to be a longer stem for harvesting later.
For other general herb how-to’s, search through ehow’s garden tips which I found to be easy to follow with a no frills approach.
Once you’ve harvested the stems. It’s time to strip.
Stripping, the leaves, that is. To prepare leafy stems for use in cooking, strip the leaves off the stems by sliding your thumb and forefinger from top to bottom (easy with rosemary or thyme). Snip off thicker leaves - like parsley & basil - which don’t strip off readily. If you’re going to remove the herbs between cooking and serving (like a bay leaf) keep them on the stem without striping or even tie them together in a bunch for easier retrieval later.
And the next step is my favorite part of all… Finally a post on cooking with herbs! Keep reading…
Gardener’s Note: I’ve learned most of my gardening tips from my mom who is a certified Master Gardener (for real), and the rest of my “wisdom” is simply through my own trial and error and world wide web searches. I’m no expert but I hope it helps someone else get the basics down or encourages anyone to discover the process on his/her own.
*Definitely a Lion King reference