The cumin it is an aromatic herb often also referred to as "caraway”, A term that suggests its spontaneous presence in natural environments. In fact, it is precisely in the meadows, pastures and uncultivated areas that it is often found in a mixture with many other essences, especially in the areas of the Alps.
On some texts we can find his name also written as "comino", but it is the same species, botanically called Carum carvi.
It is not difficult to grow this beautiful plant, from which gods are derived tasty seeds, which we can then use as an aroma in the kitchen. Cumin leaves are also edible, very pleasant in salads. So let's see how to introduce the cultivation of this species in the garden.
The cumin plant
There cumin plant belongs to the family of the umbelliferae like other aromatic species such as dill, wild fennel, chervil and coriander.
Its life cycle is biennial, the stem is about 60-80 cm high, it has a similar appearance to that of the wild carrot, and the root is white taproot.
The first year, the plant develops a rosette of oblong leaves with a slightly rough texture. Then, after having spent the winter, in the late spring and summer the flowers, typically collected in umbel inflorescences and white in color, which are gladly visited by bees and other insects. From the flowers then fruits are formed, which are achenes, and which represent the main purpose of its cultivation, because they contain i small black seeds.
Suitable climate and terrain
For the cultivation of cumin it is good to choose sunny locations, and also sheltered from the winds to avoid premature loss of seed once it has formed and matured.
How climate the cumin it adapts discreetly to the cold and therefore it can also be grown in the north and in the mountains, up to 2000 meters above sea level. THE better soils are those neutral or even with a slightly basic pH, and fertile. Acid soils are not indicated, therefore the ph is quite important to know about the land we have available, do not worry: measuring it is very simple.
Sow the cumin
There sowing cumin it can take place directly in the field from the beginning of spring, even broadcast, and since the seeds are very small, it is important to be very careful in handling and distributing them, so as not to overdo it by making too many fall in the same place.
The cumin seeds you can find them, even if garden centers do not always have them, at the most they can be found online. After the first purchase it will be easy to preserve them from one year to another.
The ideal, in a vegetable garden, is to dedicate a portion of the border or a corner of a round or spiral flower bed to each aromatic plant, but cumin can also be grown on a larger area, depending on the objectives set. In any case, before sowing you must be sure of having worked the soil well and thus obtained a soft seed bed.
If the previous crop had been amended and fertilized abundantly with compost and pelleted manure, or other natural fertilizers, we can avoid distributing them again because this aromatic is sufficient for the residual fertility not consumed by past crops, while if it has been for a long time, that is more one year, that no compost is distributed on site, it must be done now. There organic fertility of the soil it is an aspect that should never be overlooked, even when cultivating essences that are satisfied with a lean substrate.
Cumin cultivation it can also be carried out in pots without problems, as long as this is well exposed to the sun and remembering to water more often than growing on the ground.
It is not to be excluded the sheeding in seedbeds with subsequent transplanting of the seedlings at suitable distances, that is, about 25-30 cm from each other.
How it is grown
After the birth of the seedlings it will be necessary to perform some thinning, especially if we notice that the emergence is very dense in certain points, because as the plants grow, they branch off and form small bushes.
The irrigations at the beginning they are indispensable, especially if it does not rain, while in the event of frequent spring precipitation it will be sufficient to intervene when the soil dries up. Another important operation not to be overlooked is the cleaning from weeds, to be carried out as soon as possible, necessarily by hand or with a hoe in the case of row sowing. You can also try the clod breaker to pass between the rows in a comfortable and fast way.
Collection and use
Cumin is a generous plant, we can use the leaves, roots and seeds.
Already in the summer of the first year we can use the young cumin leaves, cutting them taking care to respect the vegetative heart, which allows the shoots. The leaves look great in mixed salads and they also lend themselves to flavor cooked dishes. The roots, which can be uprooted in autumn, they wear out instead as a cooked vegetable.
Harvest of seeds
The plants we leave in the field will go up to seed the following spring and the seeds will be ripe from August to October of the second year, when we will notice theyellowing of the umbels. The umbrellas should be put to complete theirs drying in the shade, then we can beat them and finally separate the seeds from the other parts.
The seeds are small and in the most valuable variety, the black cumin, dark. We can keep them in glass jars, and use them if necessary, to put them in the bread dough or on the crust before baking, on cheese, in cakes or together with vegetables. Their sapore is quite strong and vaguely exotic and is appreciated for its digestive properties. The German name of this species, Kümmel, is known for the excellent liqueur that is obtained from it.
It is convenient also keep apart a quantity of seeds to be used for sowing the following year, so as to avoid buying them again. Plants that have matured and not harvested disseminate very easily, so much so that the crop can become a little weed, and this allows us to have its own spontaneous multiplication.