Category Archives: Growth Stage

How To Harvest Basil To Increase Yields

Many people wait to harvest their basil plants until they are large. Waiting to harvest will give you more at one time, but harvesting early and often increases growth and allows your plant to produce much more overall.

When Should Basil Be Harvested?

Basil can be harvested at just about any time. Instead of harvesting a whole basil plant at one time, it’s best to harvest on as needed basis. The first several harvests start off small, so we typically use them as garnishments. Over time you will be able to harvest enough to make things like pesto.

How To Harvest Basil To Promote Growth

Aquaponic Basil Plant

The before and after of a pruned basil plant.

When it comes to basil, harvesting and pruning are going to be pretty much the same thing.  First, allow your plant to produce at least 2 sets of leaves. Next, clip the plants stem just above the 2nd set. I typically allow my basil to grow a little so I can at least have a small harvest. Below are some pictures of a basil I’ve started in an easy to build mason jar aquaponic herb garden.

Cutting the stem this way will cause the sets of leaves to shoot out like they are the new tops of the plants. Allow them to grow and cut those as well, repeating the process over and over again.

When it comes to harvesting the actual leaves of the basil, you can either pinch them or use clippers to clip them away from the stem.

With each leaf you clip or shoot that you top off, it will produce more new growth from your basil. Be cautious not to over harvest.  To prevent the plant from dying after harvesting or pruning, leave about a 3rd of the plant growth, so the plant can create energy for new growth.

3 Methods Of Hand Pollination

Growing your hydroponic vegetable garden inside can have its many perks. One of my favorites is not have to zig zag run away from my garden every 5 minutes from bees during flowering. It’s easy to forget that bees and other animals are needed for some of the plants to produce fruit. Not all vegetable plants don’t rely on attracting insects for pollination. Instead, they produce dry pollen to be carried by the wind. When hydroponic gardens are moved inside where bees don’t have access to pollinate and there are no gusts of wind, hand pollination may be needed for some of your plants to produce. Here I will show you 3 methods of hand pollination.

Hand Pollination Method 1

The first type of pollination requires no tools. This method of hand pollination works well for vegetable plants with larger flowers. You first must identify the female from male flowers. After finding a male flower, cut it off of the plant and snip its petals back. As you do this, try to not touch the stamen as much as possible so pollen doesn’t transfer to your fingers. Next, you want to find a female flower on the plant that is blooming with its petals pushed back. Touch the stamen to the stigma on the female flower, then gently roll the stamen over the stigma. Repeat these steps, hand pollinating every female flower.

hand pollination method

This method of pollination puts the male in direct contact with the female flower.

Hand Pollination Method 2

The 2nd method of pollination requires a clean small paintbrush or cotton swab. This method is often preferred for vegetable plants that produce smaller flowers.  First, you need to identify a male flower on your vegetable plant. Take the brush or swab and rub it along the stamen to collect as much pollen as possible. Next, find a female flower and brush the pollen you collected over the stigma of the female flower. Repeat these steps, pollinating every female flower.

pollination brush method

This method of hand pollination uses a brush to collect pollen from the male flower and transfer it directly to the female flower.

Hand Pollination Method 3

This method of hand pollination works well for plants that can self-pollinate. Pollination can be done with simulated wind, a shake of a branch or a little vibration. Setting up a fan in your indoor garden can simulate the wind, sending pollen into the air. You can also give the plant a gentle shake to get the pollen loose. I’ve even read of someone using an old electric toothbrush to vibrate the flowers of tomatoes to pollinate them. Examples of vegetables that can be hand pollinated in this way include tomatoes, eggplants, squash, and peppers.

Tomato Plant Flowers

Tomato plants can be hand pollinated by gently shaking the plant or vibrating the flowers.

Even when gardening outside it never hurts to give your plants a boost by hand pollinate them to make sure you get a quality harvest. While not all vegetables need to be pollinated to eat, those that do require pollination should be hand pollinated to increase the chances of growing the best produce possible.