Friday, 5 September 2008

Planting Saffron Bulbs

Now that I have created a garden, however much of a joke, it is inevitable that I am regularly tempted to put more plants in. My friend Jill, who has a beautiful little garden tucked away behind her house in Preuilly, gave me some irises. They are very tough and will be easy to move once we want to make the real garden, so they have gone in.

And on the first Saturday in July, M. Mériguet was in the market place, with his excess stock of saffron bulbs. He is largely responsible for the revival of saffron growing around Preuilly and the revival of the Saffron Fair. For the past few years, the third Saturday in February has been the date of the fair, when one can buy the dried orange stigmas for cooking and dyeing, followed six months later with a bulb sale on the first Saturday in July.

Saffron was once an important crop in several areas of France and an important source of tax revenue for the King. It was principally used as a dye stuff, but some was always destined for the pharmacopia or the kitchen. But by 1930, a series of hard winters, the cost of harvesting and processing by hand (it cannot be harvested mechanically), the exodus of the rural population to the cities, and the discovery of synthetic chemical dyes had finally killed off the industry.
M. Mériguet assures me saffron is very easy to grow and suited to the local soil and conditions. I bought 22 large healthy looking bulbs for €10 and planted them immediately (using the crowbar to lever a shallow hole for each bulb). M. Mériguet says they will flower in October, and multiply quickly.

Susan

5 comments:

wcs said...

Cool! Be sure to show us photos of the flowers when they come up!

Louise said...

Oh, how nice to be growing your own saffron! Those look like healthy-sized bulbs. I've planted smaller Dutch bulbs and they didn't last long, thanks to tiny mammals. (I got smarter and now wrap the tastiest bulbs in chicken wire when I plant them.) Yours should do well with that magic stuff from your barn added to the soil.

Susan said...

I hope we are there when they flower - I've asked our neighbour to photograph them if we are not, but I am doubtful that she actually will.
I didn't think about things eating them - so far nothing seems to have touched them, but they do seem to be very slow - they are only just shooting, and are not giving the impression they will be in flower in a month. I guess we can only wait and see. I don't think they are in too much danger from small mammals - I have seen red squirrels, shrews and bats in the garden - none of which would be interested in bulbs I don't think. Surprisingly no mice, but I expect they are there. Fortunately we don't have those pesky American Grey Squirrels in France - they are a total menace in my London garden.

wcs said...

Those grey squirrels are pesky in pesky America, too. I hope they don't make it to France any time soon.

Marithé said...

Les bulbes de safran (Crocus sativus) se sont-ils multipliés depuis leur plantation en 2008?
L'année dernière en automne , j'ai déplacé les bulbes pour la restructuration d'un massif et cette année les feuilles commencent juste à sortir de terre je ne sais pas s'ils vont fleurir mais ils ont été plantés cotre une falaise et ne reçoivent presque pas d'eau .
Alors j'attends, je surveille et je suis dans le Gers.
Bonne soirée