Today we picked 12 flowers, OK it doesn’t sound a huge amount but it is more in one day than the rest of our harvest so far this year. And if your wondering if the steel mesh is some advanced planting system – it’s not – it’s just there to stop our cat digging the garden bed up.
If you haven’t seen saffron flowers close up the red part of the flower, the stigma, is the part which you use in cooking. Each of these has to be carefully removed by hand and then dried before being used.
This is today’s harvest ready for drying.
For such an expensive spice it turns out to be as easy as pie to grow in Canberra. Our climate of hot dry summers and cold winters seems to suit them just fine. We got our original 10 bulbs from Greenharvest in March 2009 (I’ve also seen them in Bunnings), and they have been multiplying every year since. This year we have over 200 bulbs, of which TB estimates that there were 40 bulbs that were sufficiently large to produce a flower. The rest we have planted out to keep growing to flowering size.
We estimate that our harvest this year will amount to about 2 really good pinches of saffron, sufficient for flavouring two dishes or maybe three. Crazy perhaps, but for the smell of the fresh saffron alone (and perhaps the price of the purchased spice) I think this is one plant that is well worth including in your home garden.