Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Harvesting Sweet Basil Seeds

Sweet basil sings of summer. 
Summer recipes feature tomatoes, bell peppers and basil, all picked fresh from the garden. 

Basil martinis. Pesto. Caprese. These are the tastes of summer.

To satisfy the craving, I planted basil throughout the garden. 
My basil plants are near the edges, spilling onto the paths creating a delicious aroma in the garden as they are brushed by passing legs.

Tomatoes love basil, they grow well planted near each other so I planted basil seeds around the tomatoes. I planted the seeds in succession to prolong my harvest. We have been pinching them as we use the basil for cooking which has resulted in bushy plants full of leaves. The plants have gone to seed so it was time to deadhead the plants to encourage them to continue to produce those yummy leaves. You can read about how to deadhead basil here.

Basil seeds are tiny and black. They are formed on long stems which form small white flowers.
The bees love the basil, they were buzzing around as I took these pictures, doing their good work.

The photo below shows three sweet basil flower stalks in different stages of development. 
On the left is a green stalk with immature seeds not yet ready to harvest. On the right is a dried out stalk which has already released its seeds. The middle stalk is part green and part brown which is the ideal time to harvest the seeds. 

The flower stalks start out fully green. You can see the seeds starting to form here. These seeds are still green and are too immature to harvest.
The stalks start to dry out and turn brown. As they turn brown the seeds mature and turn black as you can see here. These seeds are ready to be harvested.
The seeds are released as the stalk dries out, so if you wait until the stalk is fully brown there will be no seeds to harvest like this in one.
So pick the stalks that are half brown, shake them to release the seeds, use your fingers to gently remove the seeds from the stalks and store them for next season. 


  1. The hummingbirds love the basil blooms in the container we have on the deck and we love watching them.

  2. I love hummingbirds too. We have some that nest in our magnolia near the kitchen window. They fascinate me.