Which leaves should I pick off for cooking. Only need a couple.
How/when do I prune? Online sites just confuse me. In the past I manage only stringy plants with fewe leaves
When the plant starts growing stalks of little white flowers at the top, prune the flower stalks off completely. This will extend the season of the plant and make it grow more leaves for you. Once it starts putting energy into flowering, it puts less energy into growing leaves, and if you let it go to flower it will die much sooner in the season.
Basil loves rich soil (like compost) full sun and lots of water. If you end up with tons, pesto is really easy to make, and delicious. Have fun!
Nip the growing tips, usually, instead of leaves along the stalk. It will bush out that way and delay flowering.
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"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
That's how I do it. The smaller leaves are also better tasting/more tender than the older tough ones at the bottom, in my opinion anyway. They grow back quickly.