Are you looking for something new and unique to add to your perennial herb garden? Consider fall-blooming Saffron Crocus, also known as Autumn Crocus. Saffron is one of the most expensive and sought after spices in the world. Per pound, Saffron costs more than gold. Its value is so permanently high because it requires labor-intensive harvesting methods that require around 200,000 delicate red strands to be hand-picked from 70,000 plants. You can easily grow this herb in your protected New Hampshire Zone 5 garden and the corms will multiply over the years.
Saffron is used in dishes such as bouillabaisse and paella, creating a buttery yellow color and adding a subtle flavor and aroma. Just a few strands of saffron goes a long way in any dish. Saffron can deteriorate when stored over the years, so having it available in your garden you can replenish your yearly supply. One to 2 dozen bulbs will provide many meals over the year for the average home gardener.
Wild Saffron Crocus is easy to grow in moist, well-drained soil and prefer full sun. The corms bloom in late summer and fall, adding a nice late show of purple color to your garden. Saffron can be grown in containers, rock gardens and are good for borders and beds. It is perennial if planted correctly. Ideally it does best in a site that remains relatively dry in the summer when the corms are dormant. Mark the spot where they are planted! This will prevent you from forgetting that the corms are in the ground and accidentally planting other plants in the same location.
To harvest the saffron, choose a late morning sunny day when the fresh flowers are fully opened. Carefully pluck the 3 red stigmas out of each plant and set them aside to dry. Once the stigmas are dry, store them in an airtight container. The best way to use saffron in a recipe is to steep a couple of threads in whatever liquid the recipe requires, then after 20 minutes add the liquid and stigmas to the recipe.
Saffron Crocus corms are available at Rolling Green Nursery.