HOW TO GROW SAFFRON






Saffron is well known for being the world's most expensive spice. Surprisingly is produced from a crocus bulb, but the spice does not not come from the bulb itself! The saffron is in fact the bright orange stamens that protrude from within the flower.

The saffron crocus - Crocus sativus is truly an ancient spice but it does not exist in the wild. However it is believed to be descended from Crocus cartwrightianus, a native to the Greece, and the Greek island of Crete. This species is commonly found growing on limestone soil areas of the Attica Peninsula of Greece. There is evidence that this plant was cultivated in ancient Crete at least as early as the Middle Minoan Period (2000 BC), as exhibited by the fresco, 'the Saffron Gatherer, found at the Palace of Knossos.

Despite its Mediterranean origins, the saffron crocus has been grown successfully in more temperate regions. In fact the market town of Saffron Walden in Essex, England owes its name to the flourishing, commercial production of Saffron during the 16th century and 17th centuries.

While the Saffron crocus is quite happy growing in a Mediterranean climate, its is also suitable in any similar climates with hot, dry summers. Surprisingly it can survive cold winters, tolerating frosts as low as −10 °C (14 °F) and short periods of snow cover.

This means that with a little work you can successfully grow the saffron crocus in northern Europe. Irrigation is required if grown in environments with low rainfall.

The Saffron crocus will grow best in full sunlight, in fact when grown commercially, fields that slope towards the sunlight offer the best sites. It prefers friable, loose, low-density, well-watered, and well-drained clay-calcareous soils with high organic content. In areas with more rainfall such as England the traditional raised beds will help to provide the necessary good drainage.

Rain immediately preceding flowering boosts saffron yields; rainy or cold weather during flowering promotes disease and reduces yields. Persistently damp and hot conditions harm the crops, and rabbits, rats, and birds cause damage by digging up corms. Nematodes, leaf rusts, and corm rot pose other threats.

The Saffron crocus will need a period of dormancy over the summer when they should not be watered, this may well require them to be covered to be protected from the rain. Come the autumn, the corms send up their narrow leaves and begin to bud in early autumn. Only in mid-autumn do they flower. Harvests are by necessity a speedy affair: after blossoming at dawn, flowers quickly wilt as the day passes. All plants bloom within a window of one or two weeks.

Roughly 150 flowers will yield but 1 g of dry saffron threads.

For related articles click onto the following links:
CROCUS 'ORANGE MONARCH'
CROCUS 'PICKWICK'
HOW TO GROW CROCUS
HOW TO GROW CROCUS FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW SAFFRON
HOW TO GROW THE SAFFRON CROCUS - Crocus sativus
HOW TO PROPAGATE THE SAFFRON CROCUS
WHAT IS SAFFRON?

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