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How to Grow Cumin:
Cumin is native to the eastern Mediterranean through to the East India area. Cumin will require a long, hot summer of about 3 to 4 months for it to completely grow to maturation. The ideal temperature for cumin is about 85 degrees and seeds should be sown in the spring to ensure that the plant has adequate warm weather in which to grow to maturity in. The seeds can be started inside about six to eight weeks (6 to 8) weeks before the last frost of the season and transplanted outside for a "head start" on ensuring that the seeds have a long enough growth season to last through till the late summer.
Cumin has been in use since ancient times and is a member of the parsley family of plants. Cumin is best when harvested by hand. Cumin is an annual plant meaning that it will have be replanted each year in order to reap more harvests from it. Each branch of cumin will have two or three subbranches that sprout off of it and all the branches end up creating the height of the canopy at the top of the plant. Flowers are usually small in size and turn either pink or white on the ends when they are in full bloom. Each seed will have 8 oil ridges or canals where oils flow from to help hydrate the seed and give it the flavor and taste that it is notorious for having.
Seed Sowing Depth: Seeds should be placed in groups of 4 under about 1/4 inch of dirt to yield the best growth results. Each cluster of seeds should have about 4 to 8 inches of space allocated between them to allow the seeds to mature fully without being crowded.
Sowing Indoors/Outdoors: The cumin seeds are safe to begin growing indoors about six to eight (6 to 8) weeks before the last frost hits. The seeds can be transferred outside after the last frost of the season to continue their extensive growth cycle of 3 to 4 more months before the plants are ready to be harvested before the first frosts in the fall.
Plant Height & Width: Cumin tend to be a total of 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 inches) tall when fully grown with a diameter of about 3 to 5 cm (about 1 inch) around.
Leafs Color & Description: Cumin leafs are long, oblong shaped objects that look like a cross between an elongated sunflower seed and a flower petal. The seeds usually end up being yellow-brown in color and the stems are grey or dark green.
Growth Habits: Cumin takes quite a long time to mature, usually about 3 to 4 months in total. Starting the seeds inside six to eight (6 to 8) weeks before the growing season ends and the fall frosts begin to hit. This is especially vital in more northern regions where summers are shorter and falls and winters are longer seasons. These plants transfer to the soil well at that stage of growth and will have a "head start" to ensure they do all their growing during the warmer months when temperatures run between 60 and 80 degrees (up to 90+ degrees each day) to help the plants reach maturation.
Cumin is drought-tolerant but can also endure receiving quite a bit of moisture in certain climates as well. Cumin is able to endure longer periods of time without water. The growing season requires 100 to 120 days of warm weather and cumin is durable in tropical and subtropic climates that are hot year around. Cumin is a fairly hearty plant with plenty of ability to tolerate various scorching temperatures and lots of rain or little rain as the climate cares to provide it. It will only need limited watering about once per week to thrive and continue to grow and it needs about 1/2 inch of water at most to continue to be able to produce.
General Info on Cumin and Uses: Cumin is an herb that is used in many various types of cooking dishes including a variety of world cuisines which use cumin in a ground form to garnish their dishes and provide some added flavor.
Today, the plant is best known in cuisines from a variety of countries including Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Iran, Turkey, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Mexico, Chile, and China to name a few locations where these foods are popular in the area's traditional cooking.
Cumin has three general ratings and grades of quality and those are Iranian, Indian, and Middle Eastern.
Pests & Diseases: Cumin is prone to wilt if it is not harvested within a few days to a week of it becoming perfectly ripened.
Powdery mildew is another common problem that can creep up on cumin and is most likely to attack the plant at the flowering stages before it has time to fully mature. Powered mildew is usually the result of bad seeds that were planted to grow the cumin in the first place.
Alternaria blight is another condition that can plague cumin and it usually strikes during warm, humid weather where there is a lot extra moisture in the air. The plant is usually attacked at the seedling or the flowering stages and it stops the plant from growing to full maturation so it can never end up being harvested in the first place.
Finally, cumin can be subject to damping off which occurs in two primary phases. The first phase is the pre-emergence where the seed has not yet come out of the ground but is attacked and the seeds are killed before they even hit the surface of the soil let alone break it. The post-emergence phase of the damping off is when the plant ends up with lesions after it has begun sprouting that kill of the plant. The causes of both phases of damping off are usually bad soil or seeds that cannot grow the plant to full maturation.
Harvesting Information & Storage: Cumin seeds will be harvested about 4 months aft the initial seeds are planted and will be a yellow-brown color. The seeds must thoroughly be dried before being stored. Do this by setting them out in partial or total sun for several days to ensure that they are completely dried before storing to help them last for long as possible. They can be set on towels, trays, or anything else you may find convenient to keep them in the sun while they dry. Once they are done drying remove all of the dirt, dust, and debris from the seeds before storing them. Use a traditional winnowing basket to do this as it makes the process the easiest.
Once the seeds are completely dry, store them all in airtight containers or bags. By the time seeds are stored they will have a 10% moisture content or less. It is not advised to grind your cumin spice as the process tends to contaminate the seeds which will deter many people from using the seeds as they were originally intended to be used as garnishes to dishes or cuisines from various parts of the world. The spices are also much easier to store whole and are able to last much longer than if they were ground up before being stored.