Tips on Growing Saffron
Crocus sativus or saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world and if you like it, you can benefit by growing saffron yourself. This herb is known for its unique taste and nothing else can be substituted in place of it. Saffron is used in dishes all over the world but it is mainly used in India, Greece and in all types of Spanish cooking.
Saffron is a semi short flowery plant. It has lighter green steam and leaves and in autumn it sprouts delicate purple flowers. The plant itself is very attractive but the threads that grow out of the middle of the flower are what people use as a spice. The day the petal of the saffron opens, the threads must be removed quickly and put in an area to dry. Once they are completely dried they can be used to enhance the flavor of food.
Growing saffron yourself is not hard to do. You will have to purchase the bulbs for this plant at your local gardening center or nursery. This plant is a hybrid and will not make any seeds. Once you have a few plants established you can cut off a shoot and add it to root solution to get another plant. This seems to work fine even for novice gardeners. But you must specifically ask for a female crocus sativus because the male version of this hybrid doesn’t have any taste. The threads from a male plant are completely useless.
The saffron plant thrives indoors or out side. But if you live in an area where the temperature goes below freezing, it may not do as well. In these climates, an indoor plant is easier to maintain. Along with the intolerance of the cold the growing saffron also does not like soggy, wet conditions. This is another reason to keep the plant inside. While growing saffron, if the root system soaks in any type of moisture for too long, the plant can die. So always plant it in a potted container with holes or an area in your garden that has excellent drainage.
If you do opt to plant saffron in your garden you can use the raised bed method. Make long rows of soil that are elevated and dig a smaller trench along side of these rows. Plant the saffron in the center of the bed. They should be placed a foot away from each other so they have enough room to grow and thrive.
Saffron plants do not like too much summer sun so I may be a good idea to bring them indoors for the summer months. If you are leaving them in your garden make sure the area you plant them in receives a few hours of sun a day and a mix of shading. It is even a good idea to plant them under trees or by your house, to take advantage of these shaded areas.
When it comes to harvesting the threads, wait until the flower has opened up and bloomed. Immediately cut the flower off and take it inside. Using tweezers gently remove the thread and place it in a container lined with paper towels. All of the threads you harvest have to be completely dry before you store them. You can place them in any container that has a snap on lid. When the threads are dry they can easily fly away, so always keep them covered.
Growing saffron can enhance a garden and you can use the delicate herbs or threads to flavor food. The best part is, you can have the luxury of using this expensive flavor at no additional cost.