This innocuous little autumn-flowering crocus produces saffron, the world’s most expensive spice.
Saffron is what you get when you detach the stigmas and dry them. (Stigmas are the sticky ends of a flower’s reproductive girly parts.) Harvesting takes place over a six week period in mid-late autumn. The flowers are picked early in the morning so they don’t get a chance to open and the stigmas stay protected.
Then, assuming your extremities haven’t turned black and gangrenous from that 15-degree frost you’ve just been working in for the last hour or so, you take the flowers inside, extract the tiny stigmas (keeping them attached to each other, naturally), dry them to the correct standard, weigh them and proudly admire your morning’s work: half a gram of finished product.
That’s why saffron’s so expensive.
Farmer Wan and I, being suckers for this sort of punishment, decided it was about time we took a crash course on a cash crop and so we recently acquired 1,000 C.sativus corms. We wanted to give them the best possible chance of producing highest-grade saffron, so we went to a fair bit of trouble to ensure they’d flourish.
After calculating that we’d need 20m2 of growing space, Farmer Wan knocked up eight raised beds from untreated eucalyptus. You can follow what we did next by viewing the slideshow below.
Posted by Farmer Nik
24/2/2012 04:36:58 am
I spy two gluttons for very tedious croci picking punishment.
26/2/2012 01:22:42 pm
As soon as we have a fine day and I can take photos of them when they're not looking like bedraggled urchins in the storm, I'll post some. Promise xx.
15/3/2012 03:45:25 am
Do cows or sheep like Saffron?
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About Ewan and Niki
Scottish mechanical engineer with a deep and abiding passion for good food. Outstanding cook. Builder of lots of stuff. Cattle whisperer. Connoisseur of beer. A lover rather than a fighter.
Kiwi writer and broadcaster who hates cabbage, even though she knows it's good for her. Chook wrangler. Grower of food and flowers. Maker of fine preserves. Lover of dancing and wine. Definitely a fighter.