Saturday, September 12, 2015

Saving basil seeds

My life will be forever autumn.
So with temps in the 40s now at night, autumn seems to be closing in on us.  And that means those plants that had been producing leaves and fruits* for us now turn their attention to producing seeds.

The plant on the right as the herb basil, a sexy annual that works hard all summer producing fragrant and edible leaves, but which eventually flowers and then calls it a life.  If you look closely at the stalks there, you can see the flowers on top.  Those brown spots are dried flowers, which also happen to contain the seeds we need to re-grow basil next year.  Each former flower contains 3-4 seeds. Getting them out is of utmost importance.

Or is it?  Since I plan on growing basil in this particular herb garden again next year, I purposely left a few that I hope will just fall to the ground and re-grow. So we'll see how that goes.

But the accepted harvest method is to snip off those flower stalks, mash them by hand in a bowl, then carefully separate the tiny seeds from the browned chaff.  I've done a bit of that, at least enough to cover planting for next year.  What a pain. One will never grow rich harvesting basil seeds.

So I'm also trying something that I hope will work better: I cut all these stalks off whole and rammed them top-down into a 1/2 gallon canning jar. Then I left them on a sunny counter top. The idea is that if/when they dry, they'll drop their seeds to the bottom of the jar, making them simple to collect. You just pour them out.

So anyway, I'll let you know how that goes.

UPDATE: On another note, the cuke ladder, replanted with blue lake beans, is a smashing success - we blanched and froze a ton of beans today, plus had some with dinner.  My original planting, now almost dried up completely, got jealous and kicked in one more picking of beans.

So I'm wondering.  I fully plan to plant cukes again in the spring in this bed. And they will have had a planting of something else between them.  So does that qualify as 'proper' crop rotation? Inquiring minds want to know...

* Utterly ignore what I said about the pear season being over.  While I was lopping off pear tree branches wasted by fire blight, the lovely and gracious Rogue quietly picked 25 gallons of pretty sizeable pears. So next weekend is already scheduled to be spent canning .


  1. I couldn't even deal with the weeds. But I had considered seed and realized that, without a helpmate to do a lot of that stuff, and help keep my on track when possible, there is no way to raise a repeatable garden alone. Sure, what you did. But you suggest that is a lot of work. Add a dozen or more herbs, vegetables, and flowers, on top of weeding, replanting, harvesting, and dealing with the harvest.

    That takes dedicated workers. I don't think most even stay-at-home mothers could run that program, and wouldn't unless starvation was the choice. And they might not be able to, even then. My mother tried to get us kids to help but we were, in all honesty, pretty useless. It would take a complete collapse to even get women to try, men won't be doing it at that point (equality will be fully understood as bunk though).

    This is going to go very sideways if what any of us seem to believe is going to happen does happen. Two years of lost crop is all it would take to wipe out an area. Common in the Americas. They did try to civilize. Read about the Moundbuilders. Crop failures, most likely, is what destroyed their attempts.

    Never mind. I shouldn't be so... down. Just... it is coming. We are so far past being able to do much when it hits that it's terrifying. At least I can drive, still, so have a chance to work into some kind of shape and decide whether, seriously, to stay or go. If I'm going to die, I'd rather die without bureaucrats trying to force me to live or murder me... or both. Damned idjits are terrifying when they know they are right yet have no clue what to do!

  2. It's the weeding that'll get you. So I've tried something a little new this year. I bought a 12-page paper shredder and shred everything that comes thru the house. With 6 kids here, you might imagine that's quite a bit. Junk mail, cereal boxes, used Sudoko books, all of it gets shredded. Then I put it in 5-gallon buckets, fill 'em with water, and let it sit for a day so the swelling can start to break down the paper fibers. Once that's done, I slop it right into the raised beds as a mulch or throw it on one of the compost piles.

    It's worked surprisingly well. Being all intertwined with other paper, it doesn't blow away nor does it let weeds up, yet being but shredded paper, it lets the water go thru. Of course, as soon as you place it, it begins the process of rotting, and while it adds organic matter to the garden, paper doesn't have all that many vitamins. So it can't replace a good leaf mulch, but it can keep the weeds in check at times where you're waiting for the leaves to fall. i.e. all summer.

    Yeah, it's all gonna be a lot of work. Far more than we are used to. Secret's going to be something about eggs and baskets, trading garlic for potatoes instead of the other way, and militias under the lawful control of the county sheriff. And lots of prayer for our daily bread. But at least we won't have to put up with Bruce Jenner.

  3. Jealous of the fruit. Still buying pears to can for too much money. Probably cheaper to buy canned fruit. 10 bucks for 16 lbs. After waste is probably isn't a good deal. But I'm going to have some fruit that i canned dammit. This year I planted three plum trees. Next year will be a couple pear trees. I've got one, but it needs a pollinator.