basil, collecting seeds, seed heads
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How to Collect Basil Seeds From Your Garden

Why collect seeds?

I say why not?  Isn’t it kind of cool to save a buck or two and learn something with your kids at the same time?  Plus, you can use those saved bucks to go buy some ice cream or a cup of coffee for $3 and not feel so guilty!

“I think it’s important for us and our children to know that it is possible to find something that looks dead and worthless, and know that underneath that withered exterior, lies the key to something beautiful and full of life that is fragrant, nourishing, and even if you don’t like to eat it, is still fun to scratch and sniff! ”  – Marie Stephens

Aside from the idea that you can eventually eat the basil that emerges from these adorable little onyx colored seeds, do you see the beautiful metaphor about life that you can teach to your little ones?  Collecting seeds and being able to grow them on is a great lesson for that old saying “Never judge a book by its cover.”  That’s one of the things I love most about gardening!  So many life lessons are hidden amongst all of the leaves, dust, and dirt!

So here is how to get started on your seed collecting adventure

  1. Allow your basil plants to form flowers
  2. leave the flower stems on the plant
  3. let the flowers form and wither leaving them on the plant
  4. wait until the flowers die away, and little seed heads start to swell on the stem
  5. allow the seed heads to get brown and crunchy
  6. cut the dried flower stems with seed heads away from the plant
  7. Get ready to harvest your tiny seeds!
©Marie Stephens 2018 basil seed head

Dried up basil flower stem with seed heads

©2018 Marie Stephens gardenshapers basil seeds with chaff

The tiny black things are the basil seeds.  Aren’t they cute?


©2018 Marie Stephens Gardenshapers basil seeds after blowing away chaff

It took me about 10 minutes to harvest this small amount of seed.

Once You Have Your Flower Stems

  1. Find the dried flower stem ( if you are like me, you might be like the squirrel who knows they burried the nut some place, but you just can’t seem to remember where!)
  2. pluck off the seed heads
  3. use a small white dish  to crumble the seed heads into
  4. crumble the seed heads over a strainer so all the chaff doesn’t fall onto the plate
  5. you should get 3-5 tiny black seeds per seed head
  6. roll the seed heads between your fingers, crushing the dried capsule, until the seeds fall out.  They are about the size of a small caterpillar turd.
  7. When you have crumbled all the seed heads, ever so gently blow over the plate and the rest of the dust will blow away, leaving the seeds on the plate!
  8. Ideally all seeds should be stored in a cooler or climate controlled environment.
  9. My hand harvested basil seeds may or may not sprout, as I didn’t store them properly, but I am willing to try….because they are from my Spicy Globe Basil Plant, and they didn’t have that seed at the store!


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  1. Pingback: Seed Starting Basics – Gardenshapers

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