Growing saffron in the garden

Saffron is a very valuable spice, you may be surprised to learn that it can be grown safely in your garden. The latitude of Italy, like that of Spain, Greece, Iran and India, is perfect for growing the crocus sativus bulb, from which saffron is obtained. In ancient times, saffron was a state monopoly and today it is commonly believed that it still is, but that is not true and anyone can plant it on their own land.

The high cost is due to the large amount of labor required to produce even a small amount of spices, but it is not at all difficult to obtain saffron and make homemade yellow risotto.

The saffron plant is born from a bulb (crocus sativus) and the flower is sterile (it does not reach the seed), so it only replicates through the bulb. From the bulb, the annual cycle provides for the emergence of the spathe from the ground, later forming filiform leaves, emerald green in color, which comb over the ground, and a beautiful purple flower from which the spice is obtained ( taking only the three strands of the stigmas), you can see a nice photo gallery on the page dedicated to saffron flowers.

Start saffron cultivation

It’s not difficult to start growing saffron, although I recommend starting with a modest number of bulbs so you can learn and do the work involved in growing it.

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Adapted climate and terrain

Weather . Saffron can be grown throughout Italy without any problems, it does not fear cold or summer drought and is very resistant to temperature changes. On the contrary, it needs a lot of light for photosynthesis.

Ground . Saffron absolutely needs a soil that drains water, in stagnant soil or compact clay soil, good results would not be obtained and the bulb would probably get sick quickly. Other than that, the optimum soil should be fertile and well worked. Good soils with a slight slope because rapid drainage of rainwater is guaranteed.

Ground work. Since, as it is written above the saffron bulb, it is especially afraid of standing water, as well as working the soil deeply, we recommend that if the soil has no more than good drainage, one makes raised hedgehogs (or hogs) so that the bulbs are planted above ground level and prevent rotting.

Purchase of light bulbs

A very difficult thing to start a small saffron forest in the garden is to buy good quality saffron bulbs. First of all, the bulbs should be more than 2 cm in diameter, but it is better if they are 3-4 cm in diameter, otherwise they will bloom little and the first year the results will be poor. Always check that the bulbs are dry, intact on the outside and free from rot. Saffron bulbs can be very expensive, an average size 3 cm bulb costs between 30 and 60 cents, in general. We do not recommend buying Dutch bulbs, although they are usually cheap, having grown in greenhouses, they are not very productive, weak in their development and multiplication. It is best to source bulbs from Italian saffron growers. The bulb lasts for a year, so if you don’t plant it, it will be thrown away anyway and will be useless the following year.

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