We are now at the tail end of fall. Many parts of North America have already seen freezing temperatures that shut down garden activity. But if your neighborhood – like mine – has not yet seen the freezing mark, now is the time to harvest any remaining basil you might have in the garden.
Basil is a warm weather herb. Once daytime highs dip below 60 degrees, it stops growing. No growth, no more flavorful leaves. This is when you need to make your final basil harvest, right down to the ground.
Basil after freezing temperatures.
Harvest everything you can because basil leaves blacken and rot when they are hit with freezing temperatures. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at this photo to the right. Those ugly dark brown blobs in the photo are what is left of basil after a hard frost. Don’t let this happen to you.
Harvesting basil at the end of the season is a quick and easy job. Just get out to your garden with sharp clippers and cut right through the main stem. Give it a good shake (to remove any stray insects) and bring it indoors. Strip the leaves from the stem and lay them on a flat absorbent surface. I often use a kitchen towel for this. Allow to air dry 10-14 days and store in an airtight container for later use.