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Saffron Crocus

Saffron Crocus, Crocus sativas, Phoenix, Az 11.16.17

Saffron Crocus In The Home Yarden (Crocus Sativas)

Saffron is one of the most expensive seasonings on the market.  The reason it is so expensive is because it is so labor intensive to harvest the saffron within the short blooming period.

When growing saffron in the home yarden, the expense is significantly reduced.  The corms are about $1.00 each most places.  Each corm produces up to three flowers and each flower produces three stigmas.

The calculation is: "...for a family of 4 you will need to grow 16 saffron bulbs, in order to have available a sufficient amount of spice to the preparation of 4 dishes seasoned with saffron for each within a year." ~ OffGridOrganicFarm  In general, that breaks down to about 36 stigmas per recipe (9 per person).

Storing Saffron Threads

Storing Saffron:

Before storing saffron, the threads need to be dried out so that all moisture is removed. This can take a few days.  We use an organza bag for holding the saffron during this period. The little jewelry organza bags have infinite uses for gardeners, and this is just one.

Once thoroughly dried, store saffron in an airtight container.  Keep the container in a cool, dark place for up to six months for maximum flavor. If the container is opaque, then storing in a cool place is sufficient.

Saffron will not spoil, but it will lose increasingly more and more of its flavor with age.

Let's Get Growin

SUN: Saffron bed must be in a sunny place, notably in autumn during the flowering stage
WATER: Water regularly when growing, do not water during dormancy. Relying on rainfall is acceptable.
SOIL PH: 6.0-8.0
FERTILIZER: You can fertilize them once a year, though they grow fine without being fertilized as well.

2018-11-04 Kinky Saffron
Kinky Saffron Leaves

Not sure what happened here, but going to separate out this bulb and see if I can get a kinky saffron cultivation started. 

All leaf blades, until today have been really straight.  This is the first time I've seen a kinky/spiral type leaf growth and want to see if I can separate out and divide the corms to reliably produce a 'kinky saffron'. 

Need to keep an eye out on the flower and subsequent stamens - separate them out and see if there is any discernible difference in the two as well. 

2017-11-22 Multiple Flower Harvests And New Bulbs

We've had several flowers bloom and have harvested many saffron threads.  After they dry out there is hardly anything there!

So... to ensure we are never going to experience a saffron drought, we ordered 20 more bulbs for the next year. This year they will put out green blades, but next year they should produce flowers.

Crocus sativus sprouted bulbs
These guys are ready to produce, they arrived with several sprouts.  We need to get them in the ground ASAP (tomorrow). While writing this post,  I received a Black Friday coupon for 50% off, so ordered another 30 bulbs.  I don't know why I do these things... I guess it appeals to my greedy for cheap side.

We have an empty and wide planter that had some shallots that were removed. We can home the new bulbs in there and just water as needed.  That would be a pretty good solution for now.

2017-11-17 Several Flowers Harvested!
Saffron Flowers After Harvest

This is much more promising than last year!  One day and three flowers were up and open enough for harvesting some threads. We have 9 threads, which is enough for two people for two meals!  Amazing!

No idea what the cost would be if we bought it, but we have many more flowers that need to come up so we will have loads of saffron on hand for some recipes to try out.  

This has gone so well this year I ordered twenty more bulbs for the next season.

2017-11-16 A Blossom!
Saffron Crocus Bud

Wow, when the mood strikes, saffron does not mess around!

What did I just say I should not do? And what did I do this morning?  Yep... Got the bud wet.  I am going to make the weekly watering schedule for weekends only so I have more time to think through it in the mornings.

It is so dark in the mornings.  Maybe I should get everything else done and save the last hour before heading off to work for the garden.

2017-11-14 A Little Greenery
Saffron Crocus Shoots

After moving the saffron to a better sun exposure, the shoots are getting thicker and some green is showing through.  Hopefully we will get some flowers and stamens this time.  An important thing to remember is to avoid getting water on the flowers when the flowers show up.  

When the flowers appear, I think it will be bottom watered (set in a pan of water for a few minutes to soak up some water).

Why?  When water hit the blossom we had the last time the flower promptly died.  Maybe a coincidence, but I doubt it.

Crocus Sativus Budding

2017-11-11 Peeping Leaves

The crocus bulbs are starting to send up some shoots... Finally... they are fall bloomers and with the weather being unseasonably warm the first growth has been delayed.

Now that these guys are starting to reveal themselves, the pot needs to be moved to a location that gets more sunshine so we can get some nice GREEN growth going.

2017-02-11 Update
Crocus Sativus Leaves

The saffron leaves flourished this year, but we did not get any flowers.  The image is from mid-December, but they haven't changed much to date.  Not much to report this year, and we continue watering with a good drench once a week and that's about it.  We will continue doing this until the leaves die back some time this spring, maybe and then cover the pots with some window screen mesh and move to a no-watering zone for the dormant period.

Saffron Crocus In Planter

2016-09-25 Update

The low round planters arrived today, so we get the saffron crocus set up for the growing season!  Soooo excited.  I want to try this home grown spice version out.

We have some aggregate hanging around, so we put some of that
Aggregate In Planters
at the bottom of the planters to allow for some really good drainage. These planters came with a pre-cut drainage hole. Saffron does not like being overly wet.

Garden Fabric Layer
Once the aggregate is added, we then add the weed fabric, which will prevent soils and matter from getting in between the rocks and creating a blockage that will make the saffron crocus really wet and rotted.

After the garden fabric is added, we can then add the potting mix
Saffron Crocus In Soil
- well draining, of course, leaving about four more inches above. Then the round little crocus bulbs were put in with the pointed side up.

Finished Saffron Crocus Planters
Then, finally, the final layer of soil, to about an inch from the top. We trimmed off the fabric around the edges and then added the top layer of mulch to keep a little moisture in.

Now, we just wait for the saffron crocus to appear. It is possible we will only see leaf blades this year.  When we get the flowers, we can harvest the stigmas.

Starting Over Again...

Saffron crocus part deux. I think the last set of bulbs, once interplanted with other plants ended up rotting.

I wanted to have a successful saffron growing experience, so I ordered more of these fine looking bulbs.

These are some really nice fat bulbs that will do really well, I believe.  I need to find a nice sized pot, and found a couple of drum shaped clay planters that are fairly deep and wide to spread out the corms a bit.  This is the right time of year to plant them, and indoor planting will result in a great little saffron harvest some day.  If not this year, then next year for sure.

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