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From September until late April or May, Crocus sativus, the saffron crocus plant, is actively growing. When the soil temperature drops in the autumn (usually mid October), the purple crocuses with their distinctive long, fiery stigmas flower for about three weeks. Throughout winter the very long leaves remain green, nourishing the formation of new corms. When the leaves die back in the late spring, these new corms, if mature, are ‘brooded’ during the summer to prepare for autumn flowering. In their fourth year multiplied corms need to be lifted, sorted according to size, cleaned and dried ready for August replanting.
In July/August, The British Saffron Starter Kit (costing £30, postage and package inclusive) is available. This contains a small booklet about growing and drying saffron including a recipe page which deals with simple, basic, cooking principles and, also, twenty complementary, mature, naturalised corms. If you are interested in this kit please place your order with payment (cheque or postal order, please, made payable to Caroline Riden, which will not be cashed until your corms are despatched, so please post-date as necessary). Weather permitting, the corms should be ready by early July and I will send out the kits from that date. Orders will be sent out on a ‘first received, first despatched’ basis. No more mature corms are available this summer but a limited number of immature corms are available. 22 July 2012.
Another option is The British Saffron Starter Kit containing one hundred complementary, immature, naturalised corms. These corms should flower in their second year when mature - then enter the normal one-year-mature- corm life cycle. This kit costs £40 because of the extra weight and packaging.
I do not lift corms ‘in the green’ so if you wish to send a gift of The British Saffron Starter Kit at some time other than the summer I will send out an A 5 size print of the saffron crocus plant to you. If you prefer I will post the print to the relevant address where it will arrive with your chosen greeting and a note to explain when the kit itself will be delivered. If a card is required please let me know details at the time of ordering and add £5 to the price of the kit.
From the winter onwards, you can prepare a bed in a sunny, (saffron dislikes shade) sheltered spot and dig in well rotted farm yard manure or compost adding, if necessary, some lime to bring the soil pH level to about 7. Corms need to be planted six inches/fifteen centimeters deep to encourage flowering and six inches/fifteen centimeters apart to encourage corm reproduction. First year flowers may be rather sparse but in the second and third years the corms, settled and increased in number, should all blossom well and increase your own British Saffron Spice.
Because saffron is the most expensive spice in the world - it is a good idea to grow your own! However, from November 2012 a limited number of hand made hexagonal ‘presentation’ boxes containing one gram of the season’s British Saffron Spice will be available, with a small recipe leaflet, for £15 (postage and package included). Hand made envelopes containing the spice and recipe leaflet are also available for £10 a gram. British Saffron Spice makes a delightfully rare and luxurious gift at Christmas, Easter and birthdays and is suitable for weddings and wedding anniversaries - especially Golden Weddings.