Kesar is one of the most expensive spices in the world. If you too want to grow it organically, then here’s all you need to know about How to Grow Saffron!
Kesar is popular in every part of the world, thanks to its flavor and color. As this exotic spice is not easily available and can be quite expensive, here’s all you need to know about How to Grow Saffron!
Check out our article on how to grow the best Italian Herb garden here
What is Saffron?
Saffron is a tiny, thread-like, red-orange stigma of Crocus sativus. Each flower bears only three stigmas, and they are dried for around 8-12 hours after plucking. This saffron is extensively used in various desserts and dishes for seasoning, flavoring, and imparting color.
Lifecycle of Saffron
Saffron crocus bulbs sprout after 6-8 weeks from the day of planting. The stigmas are collected during this span and the plant then starts developing daughter corms and slowly goes into dormancy.
How to Grow Saffron?
You can grow Saffron from the corms or ground-stem bulbs. The best time to plant the corms is during the late summers or early fall.
Plant the saffron corms or bulbs in late summer in the pot or garden bed at any warm, and sunny location. For the garden bed, space the cors atleast 2-4 inches apart. Water well. It will take around 6-8 weeks to become harvestable.
Growing Requirements of Saffron
The plant thrives well in a lot of light. Choose a location where it can get 4-6 hours of full sun. However, make sure to provide some shade to the plant during the afternoon of Indian summers.
The plant grows best in well-draining, porous, and moderately fertile soil. Any loamy, to sandy soil, will work well as long as you amend it with some compost.
Water the plant-soil deeply and thoroughly, whenever the topsoil feels dry to touch. Make sure to water the plant from the base in a gentle way avoiding the flowers as they are very delicate.
This plant blooms after the winter when the temperature rises slowly. The most suitable temperature for flowering is 23-26°C. Make sure the temperature does not fall below 10 C.
Taking Care of Saffron Plant
The plant is going to grow on its own pretty well and does not require any additional feed. Mix some compost on the topsoil at the time of planting. You can also add some bone meal to the growing medium to stimulate growth.
Pests and Diseases
Mites and mice can harm the plant, so consider spraying the corm with miticide before planting it into the soil. Corm and root rot are some of the major issues that you can avoid by not overwatering the plant.
Saffron strands will be ready to harvest in 6-8 weeks from planting. Wait till the blooms are partially open and take out the long, bright orange-red stigmas from the center of the flowers using tweezers. Alternatively, you can also make a cut at the bottom stalk of the flower without taking any leaves.
Unfurl the flowers to allow all the parts to drop on a paper towel or napkin. Each flower bears only three stigmas, so harvest them with care. Let them dry out at any warm, dry place for a couple of days. Once done, pick the stigmas gently with tweezers and store these stigmas in an air-tight container.
After the saffron flowers are harvested, the leaves of the plant dieback. In this span, the ‘daughter’ bulbs grow. You can either dig up these corms and then fetch out the healthier ones to store for the next year.