My basil has gotten a bit woody, and the leaves are a little too thick and the flavor a bit bitter. I just read the article about pinching back basil so I know to do that more vigorously now, but it seems like my basil produces flowers so fast that if I pinched it back often, it wouldn't give time for the leaves to get large. How can I grow my basil to produce long, soft stems with large leaves like you see in the grocery store or farmers market? (potentially dangerous comparison, haha)
Most herbs turn woody IF left to grow too tall or old, the best way to prevent this from happening is when the plants are still very young, you have to keep pinching out the growing tips from each stem unless you are constantly picking the leaves / stems for cooking.
In the summer months it is really there growing season and they can put on a lot of growth and want to make flowers so they can scatter their seeds for the next generation of plants, well that's what they do in the wild, in the garden or pot's that we grow, we continue to keep nipping out the growing tips and flower buds if any, I would restart new plants off if I were you as the flavours will be too acrid to use in flavouring your food dishes.
Good Luck. WeeNel.
Yes, I'm constantly taking cuttings and planting new basil (which usually makes roots within a week) because we only eat the tiny, most tender leaves. The flower buds are delicious too. Anything bigger than a quarter gets composted. When you strip the larger leaves from lower on the stem, new branches are much more likely to grow at those nodes.