Herbs are an easy garden plant to keep, as their care is so simple and harvesting is almost constant. Herbs are harvested for their scent and their taste. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, herbs require an area where they get 6 to 8 hours of light per day in a well-drained soil. Fertilization with a 5-10-5 fertilizer is required once per season, at 3 oz. per 10 feet of row. Harvesting is required to keep basil and other herbs healthy and growing well.
Harvest herb plants and basil in the morning once the dew has dried, to ensure that the essential oils of the herb are at their highest consistency.
Cut the plant above the the first joint of a tender growth of leaf, not woody growth. Woody growth takes longer to recover and does not taste very good when cooking.
Remove basil and other herbs just above a set of new leaves if a whole stalk of plant is needed. New growth will appear at the cut point.
Prune whenever new shoots have produced new leaves. Waiting too long to prune, or not pruning enough, causes woody growth, the plant to seed, and in the case of basil, causes the plant to flower.
Let one plant go to flower, and cut the seed heads once they turn from green to brown or gray, if you are interested in planting seed the next season.