Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pignuts and Saffron

Some months ago I bought a packet of pignut seeds ( Conopodium majus ). This is a small native plant of Europe and lives in wooded areas. It produces a tiny, edible tuber. I don't have many European natives so I will have to look into what is available. If I had the money and a few acres I would make a park showing off native food plants from all over the world for people to come, taste and learn. This has been a dream for more years than I can remember but it will take a win at lotto for that to come true. Pity I don't buy tickets, lol.

 I got good germination of the seeds and have transplanted them out to one of my beds that will be covered in shadecloth as they need shade and moisture in our summers, although they grow naturally in grasslands also in native areas.I ended up with 15 plants but since they are slow to reproduce it will take a while till I will be eating them.
The flavour is supposed to be similar to hazelnuts and Brazil nuts. It is usually eaten raw.

They will never be a commercially viable food plant as the tubers are so small and slow but it is interesting anyway. They are foraged by many people where they naturally grow. I wish I could find someone who can supply seeds from the type that has tubers that are supposed to grow as big as golf balls.

I noticed today that my saffron bulbs are starting to shoot. I have tried growing them once before but they died. I think that the soil I had them in was too sandy and the constant wet then dry while watering them in summer rotted them. If they are not watered in summer when they are dormant in the heat we get they will dry rot anyway. In my well drained sand it is best to water bulbs when they are dormant rather than letting them dry out.
I have planted these new ones in better soil that I have added compost to. I really hope they do ok now.

I don't think I will end up bothering harvesting and selling the stigmas, instead I will grow them to sell as bulbs/corms for people who want to grow their own.


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