Thursday, July 14, 2011

Harvesting Seeds

This spring I was jonesing to grow some herbs and veggies but seeing as we would be moving soon I wasn't able to do a proper veggie garden, so I decided to start some basil in a pot that I could take to the new house with me. I came across some heirloom lemon basil at the local feed store. I feel it's important to learn to grow heirlooms from seed as a form of self-sufficiency.

I thought I had made a post showing how I germinated the seeds, but apparently I didn't. I'll have to make sure I document that when I do it again later. Essentially I filled a pot with organic potting mix, sprinkled the seeds on the surface, sprayed it until it was moist, then laid a piece of plastic wrap over the top and secured it with three clothes pins so there would be gaps to allow for airflow but still hold in the moisture. I've had a problem with mold in the past when there hasn't been sufficient airflow and it's killed the seedlings. I kept it either on the top of the stove (which was gas and the pilot light kept it warm) or in a sunny windowsill until the seeds sprouted and then I set them outside during the day to acclimate. After a couple of weeks when the temperature stayed 50s or above at night I left it outside. I started with 8 seeds and thinned them down to the hardiest one. Once the second set of leaves appeared (the first set of true leaves, not not cotyledons) I began fertilizing the seedling once a week.

Here's the seedling after approximately a month:

Here's the plant after approximately 3 months:
I noticed today one of the stems with flowers was dried, so I pulled off the flowers so I could open them and search for seeds. Each flower averaged two developed seeds although some had as many as four and others had zero.
Out of the flowers I pulled off one stem I ended up with approximately 75 seeds that I believe may be viable. There were many undeveloped seeds that I threw away. It amazes me that one plant can produce hundreds of seeds. One of my favorite sayings that I viewed at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens is "It only takes one acorn to grow a forest".

Here's what the seeds look like:
There is something about seeing the cycle of life complete itself in such a short amount of time that simply amazes and inspires me. I feel like I experience a miracle with the life cycle of each plant.

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