It is quite simple to save basil seed once you know what you’re looking for. The seeds are tiny and easily missed but when you have seen basil seed collected you will be ready to do it yourself in no time. This year we have really enjoyed our lemon basil plant. It has added some great flavor variety to several dishes throughout the season so we want to be sure that we will be able to grow it again next year.
When the plant begins to flower (commonly referred to as “going to seed”) it will produce long stems of small buds. If your intention is to harvest seed, you’ll need to allow those blooms to stay on the plant instead of pinching them off. They will need to dry out and turn brown on the plant to allow the seeds to fully mature and be ready to start new seedlings.
There are several ways to collect and save basil seed but this is the way that works best for me. It isn’t the only right way, it is just my way.
Begin by lightly but firmly grasping the bloom stem just below the lowest flower as shown in this photo.
As you slide your fingers upward the dried blooms will come loose and you will end up with a handful of the wonderfully fragrant pods as you see below.
Now we need a way to separate the seed pods from the tiny basil seed. The easiest way I have found to accomplish this task is to first place the pods into a small bag and squeeze them, breaking the dried matter away from the seeds they contain.
I may use a zipper bag or whatever I happen to have on hand at the time.
Next I pour the crushed contents into a strainer with small holes that are just large enough for the basil seed to pass through.
The larger dried matter will not pass through and though some fine particles will be mixed among the seed, they are easily distinguished from the tiny black basil seed.
What we are left with is a respectable amount of lemon basil seed to be packaged and stored in a cool, dry place until it is time to start basil seedlings next year. Since there’s no way you’re going to grow that much basil, why not consider sharing a dozen or more seeds with friends?