This is year 4 of growing basil. Each year I have gotten more and more involved with the plant itself. Here is what I've learned.
When your basil goes to flower, pinch it off. You want the resources of the plant to go into making new leaves not seeds and flowers. They will keep producing flowers and I just to through and pick them all again.
This promotes healthy growth.
When it flowers, some people loose interest in the plant at this point. Either letting it go calling it done or even ::gasp:: tossing the whole plant !
I'll admit I was tossing the flowers and seeds before. This year I'm really into drying herbs and saving seeds.
Here's the trick. Dry everything for at least a week. It might have gone to two. Then just roll the bits you saved in your fingers. It crushes up the driers flower bits and the seeds come out! There are typically 4 seeds per pod and the pods looks like this on their own.
You get really good at identifying the seed pods. They look like this. Typically found on the stem below the flowers (which are also edible) !
Fully dried and ready to store for next year ! I use an airtight little tiny jar then envelope them to protect from light deterioration. Handy to label year and plant origin!
Any leaves that dried are saved for winter use and soups. All the crushed up basil bits that came from harvesting seeds just went into the dried jar too for later use! Great flavor!
It's obviously a time consuming and not at all "cost effecient" to the rich mans eyes. But not only is it free to save seeds but some day someone might control all the worlds seeds and have all of the fruit and produce "trademarked" and breed to have seeds that will not produce fruit. Even if that was not a worry, why not stockpile and ensure that you yourself have independence and a different gratitude for the food you create!
What are your favorite things to do with basil ?