A couple weeks ago, my coworker Chris and I talked gardening, and he offered me some basil seeds he’d saved from last year. I accepted them with delight and today I finally set out to plant them. Some of the seeds were still in the dried, tiny flowers which were still attached to the stalk. Others had fallen off, loose inside the plastic baggie. I did a little reading online about basil seeds. There are usually only two to a pod. When going to save the seed, it’s best to wait till the flowers and stalks have turned brown so the seeds are matured. Then you can pick the stalks and let them continue drying in a paper bag. To loosen the seeds, you simply rub the flowers. The flowers and other chaff comes loose and the seeds come out. They are small and black or dark brown, very easy to pick out fr\om the chaff. (Chaff, if you didn’t grow up in a bible-crazy family like me, means the loose bits of plant that fall away when you separate it from the seed or grain). The chaff is tan to light green and smells great. I used a plate-bowl to hold my work on my lap, with the seeds on the part near my knees and the chaff towards my belly. The seed pretty easily fell towards the seed-pile and I herded the chaff toward the chaff pile. I found it easiest to sort through a few flowers at a time, which cuts down on the chaff versus trying to do a whole stalk at once. I got most of the seeds separated my first time through, with minimal chaff in the seed pile. Then I sorted through the chaff pile. I didn’t miss much. I probably only got 12-16 more seeds after going through the chaff again. I planted 4 seeds to a one inch slot in my planting trays and have plenty left over for planting later.
While it’s still lovely and sunny, I’m off to plant more flowers: sunflowers and morning glories. But tonight I’ll add a couple photos of the seed sifting. Soon I want to write a bit about seed-saving and it’s relation to the Sunflower Village Initiative. Hold me to it.