Why I'm Never Buying Basil Again
Basil really is the quintessential herb of summer. It's so delicious, so fresh, and there’s really nothing that tastes as good as basil straight from the garden.
Near the end of the first summer I was growing basil, these beautiful flower stalks had come from the center of the plant. Now, I'd heard that you're supposed to remove those flowers because it compromises the flavor of the basil or something like that. But I was knee-deep in being a mom to two toddlers and the last thing on my mind was removing flowers from a baby plant. So I let the thing flower and the bees seemed pretty happy about it.
In a couple of weeks, those flowers had dried into little brown florets, these beautiful little spikes of brown crunchy things.
Just about that time, my mom came to visit (and help with the babies, thankfully) and showed me how I could crush the ends of those little brown florets between my fingers, and these tiny little black dots would drop right out of each and every single one, maybe two to three dots per tiny, little flower. These weren’t just dots, these were seeds! And after all was dried and crunched, we're talking thousands of basil seeds inside these flowers that I'd let just hang on the plant in the last month of its growth.
Now at this point in my life, money was not something that was necessarily growing on trees for us. And so my plant buying addiction wasn't necessarily possible to fulfill. So the idea of free plants was something I was absolutely down with. I stashed away every single basil flower I saw in my garden that summer and stuck them all in a brown bag. When springtime came around the next year, I proudly pulled all of those dried flowers out of the brown bag, smashed them to my heart's content and covered the garden with these tiny black basil seeds. And in just a month, I had more basil than I knew what to do it.
I couldn’t believe all the basil. And the best part? It was all free. The same basil that people spend $5 a packet for at the grocery store, the same basil that people buy plants for $5 for at the hardware store, I was getting five pounds of it as often as I wanted. Absolutely for free.
Moments like this in the garden are what convinced me that the entire world should have a kitchen garden. I mean, free plants that look beautiful, smell delicious, and taste out of this world? And also multiply for free? Oh my goodness, this was something I had to share with the world. So world, listen up. Free basil plants for the rest of your life are sitting out in your garden right now.
So if you're growing basil this summer and it starts to put off that little flower, don't cut it. Or if you do cut it, just cut a few of them but let the rest go to flower as they wish. And then at the end of the season when those flower heads have dried and turned brown, stick them all in a brown bag or put them in a wreath or hang them over your kitchen window. Whatever you do, don’t throw them away. And after winter has passed, head out to the garden with those dried basil seeds, scatter them in the garden and then call me when you’re swimming in free fields of the delicious taste of summer.
Here’s to never buying basil again (but still having loads of it). Thanks for bringing back the kitchen garden with me.