Crocus for saffron

This will be a story in two parts; first the planting and then much later on, the harvest.

Genuine saffron costs a fortune for so little. Yet the colour and flavour it gives to meals is second to none.

Last year I purchased a Crocus Sativus plant with the intention of letting this proliferate so that I could obtain a useful crop of saffron over the years.  It grew, I never saw it flower and eventually it withered away. Once the leaves had died I dug up over half a dozen corms and stored them in a glass jar – in the dark of my garage.  But nothing is truly dark around my place so when I went to get the jar a couple of weeks ago, long white stems had pushed out from the corms and were tipping against the lid.  Often there were up to 4 strands curling and lengthening out from each bulb – each obviously desperate to get to the light and desperate to create a viable plant.

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On the 4th May I planted most in a shallow bowl, placed this on the garden and the remainder I planted in the ground surrounding the bowl. The day was overcast and the temperature was around 15 degrees. I hoped the stronger light wouldn’t frighten them off growing. I suspect not: I am sure the urge to reproduce will be too strong.

Having seen their willingness to shoot, next year I will be planting the bulbs earlier – perhaps around the end of the third week in April.

Since planting the Crocus I have read here that ‘Saffron flowers are produced in autumn, and in Australia this begins anytime from the last week of March to mid-April, and may extend into May. The crop will flower for 30–40 days, depending on the weather; with each plant typically producing two or more flowers over a 15-day period.’ It seems my bulbs should have been planted ages ago.

This website tells me ‘Saffron produces flowers in autumn/fall with a beautiful light purple flower, which lasts a few weeks. The leaves only appear after flowering.’

Another site tells me that ‘Saffron Crocus (Crocus sativus) create quick jewel-toned flowers in the fall garden in about 6-10 weeks (sometimes as little as 4-6 weeks) after being planted.‘

I am watching my plants closely to follow their progress and wishing for a small crop. Here’s hoping.

PS Two weeks on the shoots are green, twice as high and sometimes forked.   I would say this is a positive indication I might get flowers and therefore be able to pick the saffron stems – in some weeks’ time.

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