I love growing basil and this year has been one of our best growing seasons. Warm weather plants such as basil, pepper and tomatoes have loved our long summer heat. Now that fall is upon us I have been out harvesting seeds from the basil plants. I grew both sweet Genovese basil and Thai basil but preferred the sweet over the Thai. So it was time to see if I could collect some seed for next year.
With colder temperatures returning at night I had to harvest the last leaves of basil. I could see some cold damage on the leaves and I was able to harvest enough basil to make a bit more pesto sauce. To harvest seeds from your basil plants you must let them produce flowers, even if its on just a few plants. Basil produces tiny white flowers which are loved by bees. I left the flowers to turn brown on the plant and brought several stems in the house. The round brown bits along the stems are the finished flower buds.
It wasn’t a lot of basil to use up but after a quick wash I was able to make some pesto sauce. I will be happy to have some in the freezer for winter meals.
I took the stems of the dried basil flowers and ran my fingers along the stem to loosen the flower buds off. I used a large dinner plate to place the flower buds on as it would make searching for the seeds easier to see. The basil seeds are black so I used a white plate.
I tried sifting through the buds and squeezing them gently to loosen the seed but it was a very slow process. I needed a way to thresh them. I rolled my hand into a fist and gently crushed the flower buds over and over. It was still a bit time-consuming so if you have an easier way to do this, I am all ears. I could have placed the flowers stems in a brown bag and left them for a few weeks. I am sure it would have worked and the seeds would have fallen out in to the bottom of the bag after some more drying time.
As I kneaded the seed heads I could see tiny black seeds appearing on the plate. I carefully picked them off the plate and placed them in a bowl. There is a lot of chaff compared to the amount of seed. The chaff can be composted once you have found your seeds.
I was able to get enough seeds to use next year from just a few basil branches. I am sure there are over 60 seeds in the bowl and that will be more than enough. I do not need to grow thirteen flats of basil like I did this year. I think six flats will be plenty. Be sure to place your fresh seed in a labelled envelope. Store all collected seed in a cool garage that is frost-free.