Herb Pruning/Harvesting for Maximum Growth?

progenitoAugust 5, 2008

Hello again! I have a small herb garden composed of two sage plants (common), two basil plants (one sweet, one red), one parsley plant and, most importantly, one thyme plant.

My question is, how can I prune and harvest each of these very common herbs so as to encourage growth and bushiness?

What I've been doing so far is noticing the tiny growths right above the end of the stems on each pair of leaves. With the sage, I just pull back the leaf containing that tiny growth and the mature leaf comes right off. I'm not entirely sure if this thereby removes the mature leaf's protection of that tiny growth, or if the mature leaf was actually slightly prohibiting its maximum expansion.

If any of that doesn't make sense, I'll gladly provide photographs.

I do the same with the basil plants, except they're more resilient and when I try to pull them back to make way for the new growths that seem to be right at the stem of the leaf that I'm plucking as with the sage, not only does it require more effort but part of the main stem's branch begins to peel a little. Is this terribly bad for basil?

I don't know the first thing about parsley. Mine's growing in a very specific pattern: from the ground there are many "main stems" emerging. Those stems eventually each lead to a "junction" where the stem splits off into three branches each with a clove of parsley. What I do is pinch off everything at that junction. Is that the best way to encourage growth?

And as for the thyme, I am completely at a loss. Since I've planted it in early June, it has yet to expand very much at all. It's completely alien to me how to harvest this, it just looks like a bunch of tangled, tensile stems with leaves. How do I encourage ITS growth?

Thank you very, very much...

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reba_nc(z 7)

For perennial herbs that are in good health you can simply remove 1/3 of the growth twice in a growing season. Just take a pair of scissors and give 'em a haircut. The basil can take more cutting. Snip the tops off whenever you need some.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2008 at 8:42PM
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CA Kate

And, the thyme will look better next year. Also, thyme is always a tangled mess. ;-)

    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 7:23PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

If your perennials (sage & thyme) are baby plants, you will want to harvest *very* lightly, maybe only a few leaves, until the plants have had a chance to establish themselves. Your plants will be stronger and you will have more to harvest in the future for it.

Search through the posts of this forum for LOTS of information on harvesting herbs to add to whatever you've already been told.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2008 at 7:43PM
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