If you enjoy delicious yellow saffron rice, you know that a small amount of saffron can go a long way to season dishes containing rice, seafood, eggplant or chicken. Saffron is one of the world’s most expensive spices, but it can be grown in your Charlotte kitchen garden. If you take the time to create an environment that the saffron crocus thrives in, the bulbs may naturalize, producing saffron for years.
Saffron can still be found online at specialty bulb companies. In an article I published earlier this year (Crocus Sativus: A great addition to your Carolina Kitchen Garden), I discussed how to plant and grow Crocus Sativus, and how to harvest saffron in the fall. Crocus bulbs are still available at McClure and Zimmerman. Although the saffron crocus bulbs are usually less expensive in the spring, M&Z continues to offer Crocus Sativus bulbs at a lower than average price.
Saffron needs a mix of well drained soil, sunlight, wet Spring, dry Summer and wet Fall. It is planted in the fall and may or may not produce a crop in the first year. Bulbs should be planted 3″ to 5″ deep and 2″ apart. In my garden, I planted this year’s sativus in a raised bed (Review: Greene’s Cedar Raised Bed – easy to build and affordable), filled with a mixture of compost and coconut hulls (a.k.a. cocopeat).
- One easy way to plant a lot of bulbs is to plant one square foot at at time. Using a measuring stick, I marked the edges of one square foot, then dug the top 4 inches of the soil up.
- Place the saffron bulbs two inches apart on the soil with the pointed part of the bulb up. (Rather than placing 36 bulbs in each square foot, I chose to place 25 bulbs in each square, allowing a small amount of space between groups of bulbs.)
- Cover the bulbs with the soil removed in step 1.
- Move to the next square and repeat steps 1 through 3 until all of your bulbs are planted.
- Water thoroughly.
For more information about growing saffron in your kitchen garden, see Crocus Sativus: A great addition to your Carolina Kitchen Garden.
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