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About Cumin: Though an ancient spice originating in Egypt and the Mediterranean region, cumin now features in the specialty dishes of nearly every country; it is most commonly used in Mexican and Indian cuisine. A popular spice in medieval Europe, it became a symbol of love and faithfulness, and soldiers' wives would send them off to the wars with a loaf of cumin bread. A mixture of cumin, pepper, and honey makes either a traditional Arabic love potion or a delicious flavor explosion for your main entree. Cumin seeds provide essential minerals such as iron, maganese, calcium, and magensium. Infusions made with cumin seeds have been used to treat digestive problems, congestion, and fever; the essential oil of cumin contains valuable antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and can be helpful to skin disorders.

Cumin Germination: To start the plants indoors, plant the seed in peat pots 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost date; place in a sunny window or provide heat. For improved germination, soak the seeds for 8 hours before planting. The seeds should germinate in 7-14 days. Transplant or direct sow about a week after the last frost, when the soil has warmed. Cumin grows best in well drained, fertile soil and full sun. Plant the seeds 1/4" deep and 4" apart in rows 18" apart, thinning the seedlings to 8" apart as soon as they develop leaves.

Growing Cumin Seeds: Water the cumin plants regularly, letting the soil dry between waterings. Keep weeds under control, and watch out for insect pests such as aphids.

Harvesting Cumin: Harvest fresh cumin leaves as needed. To collect the seed, allow the pods to ripen and turn brown; gather the clusters of pods and allow them to dry completely out of direct sunlight. Rub them gently to remove the seed, then store it in an airtight container.

Saving Cumin Seeds: Allow the seed pods to ripen and turn brown, then remove them individually and spread them out to dry. Another method is to cut the entire plant when the majority of the pods are ripe, then hang it upside down to dry with a bag tied over the heads to catch the falling seed. When the pods are entirely dry, rub them gently to remove the seed. Store the seed in airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Detailed Cumin Info: Cuminum cyminum. Biennial. 115 days. Zones 5-10. 9,500 seeds per oz. 6-12" height. 4-8" spacing. Produces green feathery foliage and clusters of tiny pink flowers.

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