How to pick herbs

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug

Takes just:

15 minutes

Culinary herbs are the original cut-and-come-again crop, so if you've got them in the garden, don't be afraid to get snipping and picking. The plants really will benefit from it, and you'll have wonderful flavours to add to dishes. Most herbs and leafy plants naturally want to create seeds, and once they get to that stage, it means the end of a herb like parsley, chives or basil. So pick leaves early and often to encourage the plant to put out more foliage and prevent it from running to seed. It may be cheating Nature but it extends the life of your plants and gives you handfuls of herbs to enjoy.

You will need

  • Herbs
  • Secateurs or scissors
  • Ice-cube trays


Chives grow quickly in spring and summer. Cut as you need them for use, trimming right down to the base. Keep four or five pots at the ready, so you always have some at different stages to harvest.

When cutting parsley, always remove the whole leaf, together with the leaf stalk, nipping it back to where it joins the clump. Avoid the oldest leaves as these tend to be tough.

Cutting rosemary for culinary use will prevent the plant from becoming woody. Use secateurs to trim 10cm - 15cm from each shoot, as required. Avoid cutting back into woody, leafless branches. Hang up bunches of rosemary to air dry, ready to use in winter.

When harvesting basil, nip out with scissors or between finger and thumb, the tips of the plants back to just above a pair of leaves. New growth will emerge at this point. Don't nip just below the leaf, leaving a short stem, as this will simply wither.


Grow herbs in a sunny spot in the garden to get the best flavour from their leaves, but ensure the ground is rich and moist.

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