As autumn leaves began to fall throughout the edible landscape, we noticed little touches of purple peeking through the bee balm in our greenhouse beds. Much to our surprise, crocus bulbs that had been planted over two and a half years ago, were starting to bloom. As we gently lifted back drooping branches of bee balm more crocus plants appeared. It seemed that the crocus was whispering to us for help, “please don’t cover me up”.
With many other garden chores on the agenda that day, we took a quick departure and started the process of carefully digging up over 15 clumps of crocus plants. Everyone agreed that a new location was essential for the health and survival of our precious plants. We choose three spots in between the raised beds under the swing set frame. Our crocuses now have their own permanent, mostly sunny, location with no competition from other plants.
If you are interested in growing crocus in your garden, here is some helpful information to get you started:
*Crocus sativus is an autumn blooming crocus which produces the highly prized and expensive spice, saffron. The spice is actually the red stigmas of the crocus flower.
*Each saffron crocus bulb will only produce one flower. Each flower will only produce three yellow styles, each of which ends with a crimson-red stigma. It takes about 50 to 60 saffron flowers to yield about 1 tablespoon of saffron spice.
*Saffron crocuses need well-draining soil and lots of sun.
*Saffron crocus multiply rapidly so in a few years’ time you should have enough for your garden.
*Saffron crocus are hardy down to -15F. Fertilization may be applied annually but isn’t required.
*Saffron crocus only blossoms during a short period in the fall. Once a flower blooms, it must be harvested that same day, as it begins to wilt almost immediately.
If you’re wondering why saffron is so expensive, consider this; since each flower contains only three delicate stigmas, it takes upwards of 50,000 flowers to yield one pound of dried saffron.
Conclusion: At Raincatcher’s Garden of Midway Hills, we’re hopeful about a venture into the saffron market someday!