Basil is one of the easy to grow herbs AND you can collect the seeds for planting, storing or sharing.
Getting herbs plastic free can be a challenge, so if you're aiming for a zero waste or sustainable lifestyle, growing your own herbs is a great step forwards.
I absolutely love Basil and it is useful in so many dishes.
Even if you're not big on gourmet cooking, having fresh Basil from the garden can be added to pasta dishes or put on pizza to really enhance the flavours and kick it up a notch.
Of course, in order to harvest the seeds, you will need to have an existing plant or have access to one that is seeding.
I found my original seeds at an op-shop, of all places ,and it has steadily grown into a beautiful bush.
Now it's flowering beautifully, and many of the seeds are ready to harvest.
Lots of gardeners will advise removing any flowers early and NEVER letting your basil go to seed as it reduces the flavour of this herb and takes extra energy away from the plant.
I want to have a large crop of Basil so that I don't over pick from one plant AND to have enough to make pesto and lots of other dishes that utilise a lot of this herb.
In the future, I'd love to have lots of extra seeds so that I can give them away, or gift small pots of new basil plants and hopefully convert people away from the supermarket plastic packaged herbs.
Flowering Basil won't taste as sweet and delicious but I think it's worth the sacrifice temporarily. I have a couple of spare plants to keep my supply up in the meantime.
How To Harvest Basil Seeds
Step 1: Allow your basil to flower and go to seed
This requires no effort, just continue to water it and be patient.
Here's an example of one that isn't ready.
I picked a green part from the plant as an example to show you.
After pulling it apart, it yielded only the yellow/brown pod on the bottom right hand corner...it contains nothing really, and has not matured enough to produce useful seeds yet.
Step 2: Wait...
Once the basil flowers, you need to wait around 4-6 weeks for the flowers to go brown.
This step is super important as you need to give the seeds time to mature.
Not all of your flowers will be ready at the same time, so keep a watchful eye or they may drop off into your garden.
The picture below will give you an idea of how it looks when it is ready to harvest. The pods kind of sit under the flower and now all the petals have fallen, leaving this behind. You have to look from underneath the plant to see the tiny pods.
Step 3: Pick the Dried Flowers
Once your flowers have dried up, you will be left with the remnants which include the seed pods.
Gently pick each of the pods from your plant.
I recommend placing them straight into a white dish as some of the seeds will literally fall out of the pod, as you can see below and they are really really tiny.
Keep in mind that you can get pods that are ready and they may be sitting right next to very green ones - so look for the brown crunchy looking ones and leave the rest to mature.
Set up your work area so that it's easy to see the seeds and separate the chaffy bits.
Using white dishes makes it much easier to see each of the seeds and a chopping board underneath will catch any that escape.
Step 4. Get the Seeds
Initially the picked bits don't look like anything much.
Gently tear open the dried up pieces over a separate dish to catch them.
The seeds are very small and black, and I found some pods only contained 2 seeds whereas others had 5 or 6 that literally popped out.
You can sort of crush the pods in your palms but I find this doesn't really get all of the seeds out and at this stage, for me, each seed is precious!
You can try to use tweezers to pick up the escaping seeds. I prefer to just press the seeds with my finger tip, they stick and can then be popped in with the others.
Harvesting your own Basil seeds is a great way to keep your herb garden flourishing and ensure you have plenty of future crops without spending any money.
Kids can even help to do this job and their tiny hands are brilliant at collecting the seeds.
If you end up with too many seeds, give them away to friends and family, find a Grow Free Cart, or just sprinkle them randomly around your garden beds.
Basil can be planted all year round in windowsill pots, but will benefit from being placed outside every now and then for a dose of good sunlight to keep it looking lush.
Here's a beginners guide to windowsill gardening if you want to give it a go.