How to take care of the saffron plant
First of all, we must consider that the edible part of the plant, the one we are going to use in the kitchen, are the 3 red stigmas inside the flower. The rest of the plant can be simply ornamental, giving off green leaves and beautiful purple flowers. You can also grow saffron plants in pots, putting more bulbs inside them, preferring containers of at least 40cm in diameter. It is important to choose healthy bulbs, preferably getting advice from a specialized dealer, perhaps even a nursery. The bulbs are about 4cm in diameter. Once grown, the saffron plant is quite resistant and gives an excellent product for culinary use, once dried and reduced to the classic powder to enrich dishes.
Cultivating saffron: watering
To successfully grow saffron you don't need to irrigate too frequently. Obviously, at the beginning of the life cycle of the seedlings, the water supply must never be scarce, trying to keep the soil where we grow saffron constantly moist. As the plant grows it will practically no longer be necessary to intervene. Taking central Italy as a reference, for example, the seasonal rains are more than sufficient to guarantee the water necessary for the development and growth of saffron plants. Only in the hottest season, if there are long periods of drought, it may be necessary to wet the base of the plants, taking care to use a suitable system such as the drip system. Alternatively, for smaller crops or in pots, we can simply water the soil if it is completely dry and dry.
Fertilization and soil
The choice of the soil is of fundamental importance for the success of the cultivation. The first thing to consider is drainage. In the open field we will check that the ground is not too heavy, possibly adding sand. For the cultivation of saffron plants in pots, however, we can opt for the arrangement of the expanded clay on the lower layer of the container. Alternatively we can put pebbles, perhaps using a tightly meshed nylon net to prevent them from mixing with the soil. In the garden, the land must be prepared in advance, with a deep hoeing and digging operation of at least 40cm. We can therefore proceed with fertilization, preferring mature manure for an ideal organic supply. After distribution, we will cover everything with earth and wait for the period for sowing the bulbs, when the soil has absorbed the nutrients.
Exposure, climate, disease, harvest
The saffron flowers should be harvested as soon as possible because they rot very quickly. We will take the stigmas from these which will then be naturally dried and powdered for culinary use, without adding chemicals. Our saffron will be natural and delicious. Saffron can be grown on the same garden plot for up to 3 years. After that it is recommended to avoid repeating the same cultivation for at least five years. Rotation with legumes is particularly suitable. We will periodically proceed with weeding the soil, simply by removing the weeds. The saffron plant can tolerate prolonged exposure to the sun in seasons characterized by temperatures of over 35 ° C. It is also very resistant to harsh winters, the important thing is to avoid water stagnation that could cause dangerous rot, even causing the death of the plant. You will need to keep insects and animals such as mice away, trying to avoid chemicals as much as possible.
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