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Saffron?

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Saffron?

Post  brainchasm on 3/6/2014, 5:38 pm

This is more aimed at people in the hotter states, and especially Southwestern deserts, but...

Why doesn't anyone grow saffron?  It's brutally expensive in the store, you just need to harvest the right part of the flower, and the best saffron comes from Iran (hot, arid, etc) of all places.

Anyone ever try?  Anyone know where to get corms besides amazon?

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Re: Saffron?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/6/2014, 8:16 pm

I asked someone in a class today the same question. Apparently our Oregon climate isn't a good match. But considering the cost of the seed, you're right -- it's well worth investigating if you like the spice. Or even just the color of the spice, which is pretty awesome-looking in a rice dish.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  camprn on 3/6/2014, 9:53 pm

If you just want a similar color you can use calendula petals.

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Re: Saffron?

Post  martha on 3/6/2014, 10:23 pm

The saffron crocus blooms for one day. It gives you about - I think - 6 or 8 strands of saffron. Sounds like a lot - but wait. The earlier in the day you harvest, the more aromatic and flavorful the saffron will be. When you pick the saffron, it looks like a tiny amount, but like something that could add up. Then the threads dry, and you have the smallest amount ever. 

I have some saffron crocus - did you guess?  Very Happy  just for fun, because I grow a lot of things for my restaurant. But there is no way, even for personal use, that this is a practical venture. It takes approximately 150 crocus to yield one gram of saffron, and that is assuming you catch all of it.

Not saying impossible - plant tons of them, they are pretty and purple, and if your lifestyle is such that you are up early in the day, and you're home every day and willing to check every day, go for it!

By the way, they are fall blooming. I think they bloom in the spring, but no saffron threads, and then they rebloom in the fall. Or maybe they don't bloom at all in the spring.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  martha on 3/6/2014, 10:24 pm

PS - I am so thrilled that my silly venture (these specific crocus, not gardening!) has actually yielded useful information!
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Saffron

Post  GloriaG on 3/6/2014, 11:59 pm

Hi All,

I have been growing saffron for a little over two years.  First inside - like spring bulbs, then outside in the garden.

Yes - saffron likes HOT, dry weather but it's really easy to grow.  I have mine planted in a small 2' oval in front of my asparagus patch.  (A small area is good because it yields quite a lot and you have to harvest them on hands-and-knees.)

Saffron blooms in the fall around August.  Each bulb produces one or more flowers that last only one day.  The flowers have three bright orange stigma called "threads" that are best when picked in the morning.  Since the blooms don't all open at the same time, every morning when I go out to check the garden, I harvest a few using tweezers to gently pluck the threads and drop them  into a plastic jar lid.  It only takes a few minutes, but I'm sure wouldn't be time-effective for a restaurant.  After harvesting, I dry the threads before storing.

The first year I planted the saffron, I didn't harvest any threads so the bed would have a chance to establish.  Now, I have a thick patch and from the way they've spread, the bulbs will need to be thinned after a few years.  Other than that, they really don't take any maintenance.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  Marc Iverson on 3/7/2014, 1:23 am

Well, that's investigation enough for me! Sounds like a ridiculous amount of work for what you get in return. You'd have to like the plants just as plants, methinks. I don't have to like tomato plants, because it's enough that they give me tomatoes.

Thanks for the info, Martha and Gloria.
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Saffron

Post  GloriaG on 3/7/2014, 2:55 am

Marc,

You're absolutely right!  Saffron is a novelty, and time consuming.  

Thankfully, home recipes usually only call for 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon full (maybe 4-flowers worth) so it's not as bad as it sounds.  And, the current Amazon price is about $19 for 3 grams - upwards of $2000 per pound.  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007P4W0OI/ref=s9_simh_gw_p325_d0_i2?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=0VYKC33FYHW5VBNYW2TC&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846 

We don't use a lot of saffron, so for me it works out fine.  I can pick a few threads each morning when it's blooming and have enough for the year.

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Re: Saffron?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/3/2017, 11:02 am

Just noticed saffron corms in the Baker Creek whole seed catalog... Hrm. I'm eventually going to move, and that's not something I'd want to leave behind or spend time trying to dig up... and my winters may be a little borderline. But perhaps a portable 2x3ft bed that I could overwinter in the garage... and eventually put into a moving truck. Is 6" deep enough for these?
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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 5/4/2017, 1:47 pm

I forgot about this topic. Thank you for bringing it back.

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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 5/5/2017, 9:17 pm

Tonight on Shark Tank: "a business that helps empower farmers in a war-torn country by helping them cultivate and harvest saffron"

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Re: Saffron?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 10/6/2017, 11:39 am

I ordered the saffron corms, and made the box. I haven't filled it yet, nor planted, but here it is.
[url=https://servimg.com/view/19457748/336][/url]


Here's what I used - the ~1inch refers to the thickness of the sides, which needs to be taken into account since it adds to the dimensions of the exterior. I've left the number un-simplified so it's more obvious why it's there. If you don't take it into account, your bottom ends up not being large enough. Thank you to whomever made this mistake and admitted it on the forum, allowing me to learn from it!

- Five pieces of 1"x8": Two 2ft less ~1inch, and Two 3ft for the sides, One 2ft less ~2inches to set in the middle
- 2'x4' 23/32" Exterior Plywood  cut down to 2 ft by (3ft plus ~1inch)
- Fifty-one 1-5/8inx8 Exterior Screws: 3 for each corner of the alternating sides bed, 3 for each side of the middle (going through the middle of the long sides, into the ends of the middle support board, 3 for each caster (fourth hole on the caster would only be going through the plywood bottom and a lot of screw would have stuck through), 14 to attach the bottom to the sides, and 7 to attach the bottom to the middle support.
- Twelve #10 Zinc washers, so the same screws could be used for the casters -- the holes were a little too big!
- Four 3" rubber swivel casters with brakes (happened to be cheaper than w/o for some reason...)
   I could have gone smaller, since each caster supports 300lb, and you can assume at least 3 will touch the ground, for total support of 900lb.
- 2 metal handles "6 1/2 in Utility Pulls" (which each came with four screws)
- Weed block fabric - ideally closer to 49"x36" than my scrap was
- staples (I used my regular paper stapler, which eventually worked but took multiple tries)

They aren't particularly visible but there are fourteen 1/4" drainage holes drilled in the bottom.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 10/7/2017, 3:07 am

Very nice!!!

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Re: Saffron?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 11/13/2017, 9:43 am

Here's the saffron one week ago (there was one extra bulb more than 4/square, so I plunked it in the middle:


My reading suggests that it will stay green all winter, until around April. That isn't what I expected/planned for, but this was one of those projects I just needed to start, rather than get lost in the researching/planning.

I've been bringing the bed whenever frost has threatened, as that seemed safest until I could research more than just knowing that my zone is borderline on being too cold for saffron. The rolling bed allows me to protect it, but also exacerbates the issue because it's colder in a container than it would be in the ground. But by how much?


https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/426/426-020/426-020.html
says that as a general rule to, for overwintering in containers, "select a species that is two USDA hardiness zones lower than the zone in which you live." That means that in a container, saffron can only tolerate lows of 20 to 10*F, rather than 0 to -10*F.

And I know from Eliot Coleman's books that each layer of protection can "give back" 1.5 zones. So if I can rig a frame on the bed to row cover fabric and/or plastic on I can leave it out for more (maybe all depending on the weather) of the winter... thinking
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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 11/13/2017, 4:10 pm

Watching

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Re: Saffron?

Post  plantoid on 11/14/2017, 3:32 pm

@brainchasm wrote:This is more aimed at people in the hotter states, and especially Southwestern deserts, but...

Why doesn't anyone grow saffron?  It's brutally expensive in the store, you just need to harvest the right part of the flower, and the best saffron comes from Iran (hot, arid, etc) of all places.

Anyone ever try?  Anyone know where to get corms besides amazon?


 We have dozens of Turkish crocus for saffron in the raised flower beds . Collecting the bits , drying them takes time .
 After a few days in the heated airing cupboard we ended up slipping the stamens (? )  in a small Schwartz herb jars with a teaspoon of oven browned dried rice  in the jar to keep them dried out .


 I seem to remember it takes something like 1500 bulbs to give you a ounce saffron . it is worth a lot of money if you have the packing & distribution system set up .


 If you buy from Amazon ,  once the bulb has flowered & died , try lifting one bulb and with a scalpel knife  carefuly cut back all the root so you have a shallow inverted saucer inthe bottom of the bulb .
Then dip it in flowers of sulphur powder to prevent it rotting & replant the bulb . Pt a decent marker next to the bulb so you can find it in a years time .

 If all goes well after flowering time next year there will be dozens & dozens of new tiny bulbils on the bottom of the modified bulb ( this also works well for increasing Tulips & daffodils apparently ) sow them in  deep fertile sandy soil in full sun & keep them moist during summer .
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Re: Saffron?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 12/1/2017, 9:14 pm

The bed seemed rather narrow for the bending tolerances of PVC hoops, so I went with a mini-Sanderson style PVC house. The plastic skirt needs to be taken off, and the fabric hiked up, to roll the box -- otherwise they tangle in the wheels.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 12/2/2017, 3:44 pm

Very Happy

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Re: Saffron?

Post  BeetlesPerSqFt on 5/7/2018, 6:42 pm

The saffron in my movable bed didn't make it through the winter. Sad
I think it was just too cold for too long, and the covers couldn't provide the same level of protection/heat-mass as a ground-level raised bed. I'm not even sure my in-ground thyme made it through the winter! (It survived the last four.) Once I am owning rather than renting (I don't want to have to dig up a lot of perennials when I move) I'll try growing saffron again, but in a ground-level raised bed.

Meanwhile, I now have 6 empty (err, ok, currently weedy...), unplanned squares on wheels... I'm thinking more peppers, so that I can roll them into the protection of the garage for the first few frosts, and maybe eke out a few more weeks of growing.
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Re: Saffron?

Post  sanderson on 5/8/2018, 3:39 am

Thank you for the update. PS: Tomorrow, I will be up-potting the 2 comfrey plants from the seeds you sent me.

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