Growing Herbs

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How to Grow Caraway (Carum carvi)

  • Plant, biennial, hardy to 3degC
  • Height: 60cm
  • Soil: neutral, well drained
  • Exposure: sun
  • Propagation: seeds
  • Uses: culinary

How to Grow CARAWAY (Carum carvi)During its first year, caraway grows about 20 cm high and then reaches about 60cm in the second. In the second year, flat, umbrella like clusters of greenish white flowers appear on the stems above the foliage and in midsummer ripen into seeds-after which the plant dies. Foliage is delicate and lacy, like that of carrots.

A native of southeastern Europe and western Asia, caraway has been in use for thousands of years. Seeds which are believed to be caraway have been found in ancient lake villages in Switzerland. Ancient Greeks prescribed caraway seeds for bringing color back into the faces of girls with pale complexions. The seeds were eaten by the Romans to relieve indigestion, and its roots were cooked and eaten like carrots or turnips. Now, caraway is used as a flavouring in Kummel and foods such as rye bread.

Start caraway from seeds sown in the fall or spring where they are to grow. This herb thrives in well drained, neutral garden soil and full sun. In cold climates, protect yearling plants with a mulch during the winter.

Harvest the seeds when they have ripened but before they fall to the ground. They can be used to flavour pickles, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and rye bread; or serve them in the traditional old English manner-in a small dish along with baked apples.

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