Ah. End of summer. Time to harvest the basil… and the basil seeds!
To many people basil is THE one herb to have in the kitchen garden. And it is also the one plant most often requested from the nursery at the start of Spring. With the variety of basils, their tasty leaves, pretty growing habits, and even medicinal and culturally significant uses, it is easy to see why it is such a popular herb.
Although it is possible to grow basil through the year – especially in a sunny windowsill inside the house (especially the small leaved bushy basil plants such as Minette Basil, Fino Verde Basil or Greek Bush Basil), or in a greenhouse or conservatory – basil is an annual plant, which means that it will complete its life cycle in a year. No matter what you do to it, after roughly 6-8 months (depending on sun, exposure, feeding, soil etc.) the plant will die down. Yes, even if you keep on pinching out the flower stem (which you can do to prolong the leaf production for a wee while, and help the plant to bush out). Best though at the end of those 6-8 months to let your plant flower and save the seeds for the next growing season!
And by letting the plant flower, you feed the bees too! They love basil flowers.
Saving basil seeds
- Wait till the flower spikes dry up after flowering
- Pick whole spike and pop out seeds from bracts (or keep in a brown paper bag and give a rough shake every now and then)
- Place in a cool and dry place until you are ready to sow them.