How to save basil seeds

What if somebody told you that you didn't have to buy expensive plants/seed packets from the store in order to have a garden?  That would be pretty sweet wouldn't it?  Most people (me included until 2 years ago) do not realize you actually can.  Makes sense right?  I don't remember seeing any big box stores in all of those history books I read in school.

To be fair, not all plants can be saved because of issues getting a good match the following (hybrid,non self-pollinating) year but many can.  That is good news for a cheap-skate like myself.  I have had luck with tomatoes, peppers and now basil.

As many of you know, basil is one of my favorite plants to grow.  The only thing that beats the smell of home dried basil in the winter is a bunch of fresh basil growing in the summer.  Basil is easy to grow and goes great in many dishes.

Look at that basil!

Since I love basil so much, two years ago, I decided to save a few bucks and try to save some seeds to replant the following year.  To do this, I used the most important tactic (and the reason why seeds have been successfully passed down from year to year) in a seed savers bag of tricks.  Look for the plant that you want to replicate and leave it alone.

This could be the biggest, fastest growing, best fruit producing plant in your garden.  Basically, the plant you think is the best of the bunch for whatever reason you prefer.  The idea behind this is that you are trying to take the attributes of the plant you have pegged to save in the hopes that its offspring will behave like it.

Once you have found your dream plant, leave it alone and let it mature.  This is important because you do not want to stunt the plant's life cycle by greedily clipping some of the basil in hopes of getting the best of both worlds.  Production from the plant and also seeds for next year.

To have seeds that actually grow the following year, you need black (mature) basil seeds like the ones you purchase from the store.  I learned this the hard way.  The first time I tried, my basil seeds were green (immature) when fall hit.  No seeds that year.  Last year, I let my best plant grow untouched and the seeds were black in the pods by fall. 

Now that you have a mature basil plant with black seeds what do you do?  I let my plant grow outside until the weatherman called for the first potential frost.  Once this happened, I took my plant inside and let it hang upside down in the basement for a few weeks.  This was to make sure the seeds were 100 percent dry.

Three basil plants drying out.

Once a few weeks passed, cut the seed pods off the basil plant and scrape them in to a container of some sort.  Now comes the fun part.  You have to separate the black seeds from the pod.  This is where saving basil seeds can get a little monotonous.  Honestly though, what else do you have going on in the winter?

There is a seed in each pod that needs to come out.

Look close and you can see the black seeds.

Once the seeds have been separated from the pods, store them in a dry, cool place until it is time to plant.  Plant them like you normally would.

They are off and running!

Good luck gardening this year!

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