Sometimes I look at posts, in this case a video, and it is so inspiring. They make it look so easy and effortless. Then I try it and I notice a few things, that after the fact seem obvious, but that I totally overlooked. Having made all the pesto I wanted(in reality I couldn’t afford anymore pine nuts or walnuts to make pesto) If only I had a pine nut tree. I would be rich! I know, there is probably a lot more that goes into pine nuts than meets the eye. So I decided I would dry the rest of my basil and save the seeds. I was successful in saving the seeds at least. Woo hoo! My goal is to save seeds from every plant I harvest from my front yard garden. So far I have saved seeds of yellow squash, zucchini and now basil.
My first mistake was thinking that I would dry my basil using the strong Texas sunlight I have at my disposal. Makes sense doesn’t it? Basil + sunlight = dried basil, like I buy at the store. Let me put this plainly, basil dried in the shade looks a light beautiful shade of green when it is dried. Basil dried in direct sunlight looks shriveled and brown as if, which it indeed has been, cooked. Second mistake I made was not putting my drying basil under shelter. Not everyone has such a long dry spell as we had. I naturally thought I would use our lack of rain for the foreseeable future and put my basil on a few old window screens outside on the picnic table. What I got was basil that was approaching dryness in the evening but was damp again in the morning. It was then that I noticed these details in the video that now seemed painfully obvious.
It was about this time that I decided to get out of the box and try something new. Please tell my kids that I am not the only one who can really NOT go anywhere that afternoon because she has a window screen full of drying basil in the back of her van. O.K. maybe I am, they probably wouldn’t believe you anyway. I pointed out that the well used van at least smelled quite a bit better.
So to recap; dry your basil in the shade, under a shelter of some kind. Put a white sheet under it so that you can easily save the little black seeds. Finally, your car can make a wonderful dehydrator. Again don’t forget the sheet under it all. Shake out the seeds, crush it up with your hands, put it in a jar and you have fresh basil to use on all winter.
One last note: One of my garden sponsors, see my sponsor program here, commented that she had indeed grown basil before but it never looked like mine. “It is so lush and green and smells heavenly”, she said. My secret; manure. Having chicken and rabbit poo and raised beds makes all the difference. I also had someone argue quite strongly(guess I am not the only head strong gardener in the pot) that raised beds are not the way to go because they would dry out so much faster. I have gardened in a community garden that is not raised and have also gardened in a raised bed in my front yard garden. The raised bed way out performs the in ground gardening method. This of course is not true for everyone, I am sure, but for gardeners in Texas it can make a huge difference. It is certainly a lot easier on the back!