If you’re planning on having fresh basil year after year, save the seeds from the plant itself before the end of the season. To do this you will need to allow the plant to flower. This should be done at the end of your season as flowering basil will stop producing leaves. The entire plant can be used. Other than the leaves, the flower is also edible and tasty, however, milder than the leaf itself. Seeds are utilized for replanting and selling.
Basil does not grow in cold and dark climates and is an annual plant. In tropical areas such as Thailand, where cold or frost is not seasonal, the plant can be grown successfully throughout the year. This makes harvesting, collecting and storing seeds important in other parts of the world. The problem of having basil all year is alleviated with the help of indoor growing, but not practical for many. Therefore, proper storage of seeds is important to so many.
Seeds have varying shelf life. With the proper storage, they can be stored for as long as five years. Basil seeds with proper storage can last for three years. Seeds for leek, beans, parsnip, onion and peas have the shortest shelf life to cabbage, cucumber, spinach, lettuce and some others that can be good for up to five years. Seeds past their shelf life will begin to lose germination. There are several methods in which to properly store seeds. A few important steps to remember is keeping them in a dry environment below fifty percent humidity in fifty degree temperature. Outdoors or the yard, where many store their gardening materials is not ideal as most have morning mist, dew and higher level of humidity. Some store seeds in the freezer or refrigerator. This is best when seeds are placed in a container along with something that will absorb moisture.
Basil seed storage is very similar. The seeds are contained in the flowers. Once harvested they need to be dried, kept in a cool, dry and dark environment. To extract seeds, the flowers should be dried for easier removal. An easy way to dry the basil flower is to simply hang them upside down in a cool and dry place. A practical method is by placing the flowers inside a paper bag. The plant will turn brown in about three to four weeks and ready to yield seeds.