Cumin is a tender flowering annual in the parsley family, Apiaceae, that is grown for its seed. It is used in many different cuisines, and is one of the most popular spices in the world. The seed has a warm, earthy, slightly bitter flavor that can enhance many different types of dishes. It is especially popular in Indian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, north African, and Mexican cuisines.
The plant grows 1 to 2 feet tall and produces umbels of fragrant pink or white flowers that appear in midsummer, amidst feathery foliage similar to dill – which can be added to salads. The flowers are followed by the characteristic fragrant seeds, which mature in about 120 days after planting.
In addition to its flavorful seeds, the flowers attract beneficial insects such as lacewings, predatory wasps, and ladybugs. Planting it in your garden near crops that tend to suffer from pest infestations can help keep pesky insects under control.
Seeds were used in ancient Egypt as both a spice and a preservative in mummification. Ancient Greeks kept it in shakers on the table, similar to the way black pepper is commonly used today. Also noted for its medicinal properties, in ancient Rome and Greece, it was commonly prescribed to aid women’s reproductive health. It contains the active ingredient cuminaldehyde, a volatile oil with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and carminative properties. Today, it is still used medicinally, particularly among practitioners of the Ayurvedic tradition. It is often taken as a tea, to help improve digestion, relieve bloating, and assist in the assimilation of fats into the body.
As a Mediterranean crop, cumin is not frost tolerant and requires a long, hot growing season. If you live in a colder climate, you can still grow it. But you must start your seeds indoors and transplant seedlings into the garden only after temperatures have warmed, with lows of at least 60°F.
To start from transplants, start seeds indoors about 4 to 8 weeks before your last expected frost date.
Germination takes about 14 days, and soaking seeds for about 8 hours prior to sowing will increase germination rates. Because it does not transplant well, it is a good idea to use biodegradable pots for seed starting that can be planted directly into the garden.
You can also try starting seeds in soil blocks. This is a method of propagating seeds in homemade blocks of compressed soil, which eliminates the need for plastic pots and reduces the threat of transplant shock.
Package Size: 30 seeds per pack
Germination Rate: 75%
Germination Time: 14 – 28 Days
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