Sunday, November 30, 2014

Growing Saffron Crocus

Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus Bloom
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus Bloom

Growing Saffron Crocus At Home

I had never dared to use saffron in any of my cooking before.  It is one of the top four most expensive herbs to buy and blundering through an experimental recipe with this particular herb was off my list of things to do.

However, since we purchased some saffron crocus bulbs, we can easily grow our own and as a result become less pensive about cooking mistakes.

I'm not sure how it tastes, as I've not specifically been aware of it being added to any dishes I've consumed, but it is reported to add a "honeyed depth" which I'm looking forward to tasting myself.

Starting Off
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus

We purchased a Saffron Crocus Kit with Solid Copper Planter which was delivered on September 25, 2014.  I'm pretty sure I planted the bulbs in accordance with the instructions within two days of receipt.  I watched the bulbs every day to see if there were any changes.

October 4th, 2014 we had some peek through.  I'm not sure the bulbs were planted deep enough, but I didn't change anything and stayed on course to see how these would develop without my being smarter than the instructions.

That's actually not much time between planting and showing growth.  I was impressed!

Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus

Mid Way Growth

November 8, 2014, we still had white protrusions and no green growth.  I was really starting to second guess the depth of planting.  Perhaps this was to help satisfy impatient gardeners who want to see something happen quickly.  That is a great description of me!

To appease myself, I tried not to scrutinize the flowers so much.  I kind of ignored them for a while and just stuck to watering them whenever the soil seemed dry on top (about 1 x weekly).  I went about my business.

Further Along Growth
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus Leaves
Crocus sativus AKA
Saffron Crocus Leaves

After leaving it alone for a couple of weeks, I noticed some green tips and snagged a photo.  I wanted to find out what parts of Saffron are edible, and this is what the 'net says:

The styles are used to flavor and color sauces, creams, breads, preserves, curries, rice, soups, caked, puddings, eggs even butter and cheese. It can be a tea substitute and the roots roasted. It’s not a spice you keep on hand. Usually purchased for a dish specific. It takes about 13,125 dried stigmas to weigh an ounce. Oh, I forgot to mention: In large amounts saffron is deadlly. That’s an expensive way to go. ~ Eat The Weeds
That is good information to know!

Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus Bloom
Crocus sativus AKA Saffron Crocus Bloom

Patience Rewarded

After basic maintenance of the planted bulbs, we were rewarded with our very first bloom just today!     I checked water and staked up our indoor avocado tree, and turned around to see our first bloom.

The coloring is lovely.  Lavender and green look so nice and refreshing together.  Even if we didn't want the styles for cooking, this crocus is absolutely pretty enough to grow for it's looks.

We can allow the flowers to be showy and enjoy them for an entire month, if we wish.

If one only has a small number of flowers, one can leave the flower and just extract the 3 red filaments from the pistil with some tweezers. This operation is called trimming.  ~

I'll add updates and new photos to this post as the flowers develop and the fillaments are processed.  Now on to find some saffron infused recipes!
Luffa Aegyptiaca or Luffa sponge after being skinned
Luffa Aegyptiaca or Luffa sponge after being skinned

What's Growin On In December

The days are short, the nights are long and the weather is crisp. We have chances for frost, so we need to break out frost protection gear. The covering should be light and extend to the ground. Put the covering on by 8 pm each night and then remove the covering by 9 am each morning. Wrap the trunks of young citrus and other cold-tender trees with breathable materials such as cloth, cardboard or several layers of newspaper. Leave them wrapped until the threat of frost has passed. Remember to check for aphids and other nuisance pests in the garden. Ehow has aphid control information. Natural predators of aphids include lacewings and praying mantis. You know lacewings are coming to the rescue when you see tiny white eggs at the ends of fine threads hanging from your plant leaves. If you aren't using a drip irrigation or other type of ground level water system, only water the plants while the sun is shining.

Divide and Conquer

If you haven't divided the perennials, all is not lost. Perennials let you know they need division when flowers are smaller than normal, centers of the clumps that are hollow and dead, or when the bottom foliage is sparse and poor. If you must wait for a cloudy day with potential of rain in the forecast.


Add a bit of nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate growth for the veggie garden. Put off fertilizing fruit trees until spring.


Pick citrus, but only as needed. Citrus stores best on the tree as the fruit gets sweeter as the season moves on. Grapefruit should wait as late as spring or summer. Don't pick grapefruit yet. Grapefruit are the best in late spring or early summer. In the veggie area, we can pick jerusalem artichokes, arugula, beets, bok choy, broccoli (except for romanesco), brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, dill, eggplant, endive, fennel, kale, leaf lettuce, mint, mustard greens, multiplier onions and scallions, oregano, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, sunflowers, swiss chard, thyme, tomatoes, and turnips. For flowers, we can harvest anise hyssop, dill, dandelion, nasturtiums, and pea blossoms.


Investigate mulching options, such as planting compatible companion ground covers around the bottom of the big potted plants for a live mulch that can droop over the edges of the planter to keep the roots cooler and prevent evaporation.


Frost-tolerant trees and shrubs (bare root, deciduous) may planted this month as well as flowers and bulbs. Plant bulbs in well-drained soil that is also high in compost or organic matter. Your bulbs should be planted with about two inches of sand beneath them. Cover with a coarse material such as coconut coir or crushed wood products, such as bark. We can plant globe artichokes, broccoli, standard cabbage, carrots, mint, multiplier onions, oregano, and thyme.


The rule of pruning is to never remove more than 1/4 of the total plant. Always use sharp, sterile, quality pruning tools and disinfect them between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. Rodale has an excellent article on garden tool maintenance. Remove dead branches and water sprouts, but don't do any major tree pruning.


We can sow arugula, basil, bok choy, raab broccoli, carrots, cilantro, collards, dill, eggplant, fennel, mint, bulb and multiplier onions, parsley, peas, radishes, spinach, swiss chard, tomatoes and turnips. For flowers, we can sow calendula, carnation, dianthus, pinks, hollyhocks, pansy, carnation, dianthus, pinks, snapdragon, sweet william, lemon verbena, and violas.


We probably don't need a cold frame at this time, but it is good to be prepared! If you have one prepare it for the new year. If not, Mother Earth News has an article about growing veggies all year round with a couple of raised beds.


We don't really need any shade to protect plants from sunburn, and we aren't yet expecting any frost. So, during this time we really don't have anything to put over the plants.


Cut back watering of all trees and shrubs, but continue to water deep. Don't over water or fungus will grow. That's all, stop reading! Happy gardening!