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!


Plants With a Purpose: Digging Deep for Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

Keep Calm and Fight On” says my nephew, Isaac, who was recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes last fall.

Team Isaac
Team Isaac: If you would like to help out Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, click on the photo to learn more or join a JDRF Walk in your area.

I was able to use the tent I used when I sold flowers at the Des Moines Farmers Market, and the chalkboard painted sign that my husband made for me to use to promote my old flower shop. I even had an open/closed sign to hang on my mailbox. All props that I had from owning a flower business nearly ten years ago. Good thing I never throw anything away!

Last week was the Juvenile Diabetes Research foundation walk and fundraiser for the Quad Cities Area.  My nephew had his own team, Team Isaac, and my family and I had planned to walk.  A few months ago, I registered, donated some money, and thought I was done, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to do, well….more!

On a whim, I decided to set my fundraising goal to $1000.  A few clicks, and entries, and I was set.  There was nothing binding me to that goal, and I could have even lowered it, but something in me wanted to rise to the challenge and hit that goal.  My next thought was, “Oh crap!  What the heck was I thinking?”  How am I going to raise a thousand dollars?

One week to go before the deadline, and I was only at about 25% of my goal.  The weather was set to be perfect conditions for the week: cool, sunny, and dry.  The soil was moist, as it had rained quite a bit the weekend before.  The stars were aligning, and the timing was perfect for none other than, a plant sale!  I titled it, “Marie’s Dig for Diabetes”.

 I don’t have many things that other people want or really need, but one thing I do have, is a hunormous perennial garden.  I also have a love for photography, and have been taking pictures of my perennial flowers for years, so I was able to design a nice little catalog page that showed some of the items I was digging.

FB Jdrf digging for diabetes
This is the little catalog page I made in Photoshop to use for promoting my fundraiser on Facebook. I organized the photos by the month that they bloom. If the same plant appears under more than one month, that means it blooms for each of the months it’s listed under. All photos are copyright Marie Stephens, and taken from my garden.

In exchange for donations to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, I would dig up starts of any of the plants shown.  I had some starts pre-potted, using old cottage cheese and yogurt containers with holes drilled in the bottom for drainage.  I would also divide starts on the spot and place them in grocery bags.  With the help of my family, friends and neighbors, and even a few strangers, I was able to sell enough plants to meet my goal, just in the nick of time!

Eric and Anna sent me pictures of their north facing home where they wanted to re-do their flower beds.  I was able to draw the plants right onto the picture, and then email them a preview of what it could look like once it all grew in.
Eric and Anna sent me pictures of their north facing home where they wanted to re-do their flower beds. I was able to draw the plants right onto the picture, and then email them a preview of what it could look like once it all grew in.

I even did a little bit of landscape design for one couple using my son’s tablet and a paint program app that I have.

All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope all the folks who bought plants had fun too.  It was fun to socialize and know that my work was going to a great cause.  My buns and hips and back were killing me, but a little bit of muscle soreness pales in comparison to all the insulin shots and pokes my nephew has had to endure in just the last 6 months alone.  I would do this again in a heart beat.

It’s so easy to forget how easy it is to make a difference.  I am filled with gratitude to have had the opportunity to be reminded, just how easy it is!  If you have a talent, a skill, that you haven’t used in a while, get out there and use it!  Who knows how many people you could be helping.  And let me just say, it feels so awesome to help, and feel useful for a great cause!

My Funny Valentine: “It’s something black, sexy, and I can’t wait to see you wearing it,” Said he with a mischievous grin .

“It’s something black, sexy, and I can’t wait to see you wearing it,” Said he with a mischievous grin .

Hmmm.  What could it be.  He was giving no more clues or hints or reactions to the multitude of guesses she made as she attempted to find what appeared to be the obvious answer to his riddle.  She knew him much better than that.  The ideas she had in mind were far too easy to be correct.  What kind of scam was he trying to pull on her?  Her wheels were turning as she created a list of possible and plausible answers, given their history together.  This would be their seventeenth Valentines Day together.

He laughed hysterically as she rattled of her list of guesses.

1.  A sleeping bag?

2.  A tent?

3.  A little black beret that I can wear while I paint?  I know you’ve told me I need one before.  I don’t even know what you think I look hot in?

4.  I know…something in spandex?  You biker people seem to really like your spandex.

5.  A limo?  Well, you said it’s something I can wear.  Technically, you can’t wear a limo.

6.  A new black velvet paint shirt?

7.  The last time you really stumped me, it was a worm bin.  I hope it’s not anything disgusting.

8.  Tar?  Tar is black why would you want me in tar?  Gross!

9.  Ohhh, I got it…it’s an inner tube.  You are taking me tubing at Snow Star!  You kinda wear an inner tube, right?

10.  One of our first dates was bring a friend day to scuba diving class and I wore a black swimming suit, in the middle of winter to the pool….is it a swimming suit?  You got me a swimming suit and you are taking me to Mexico for the weekend!  Right?

11.  A black dress is too obvious….or maybe that IS what it is because you know that I will think that that is too obvious, so I would never guess it.  Oh, you shouldn’t have.  You got me a black dress, a limo, and it’s taking us to the airport, and we are flying to Vegas for the weekend.  You are soooo amazing, I love it!

12.  It’s not any weird kind of food thing is it?  Not gonna happen.

13.  Sunglasses? I do need a new pair of sunglasses.

14.  Undies?  Better not be a thong, I hate those things!

15.  Oh, I got it, a new camera, or a camera gear bag!  But how is that sexy?

16. Ok, I got nothin.  What is it?

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