Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Annual Experiment

Last year, I experimented with annual poppies as fillers in my magnolia bed and was thrilled with the results. It was the first year I made large use of annuals from seed. This year, to continue The Annual Experiment, I decided to sow nigella seeds over the bare spots left by the tulips. The only problem was, I couldn’t find nigella (aka Love in the Mist) seeds locally.

After coming home empty-handed, yet again, from the garden center, I remembered that I had a large container of nigella seeds, to be used as a spice, in the kitchen cupboard. I had bought the seeds after copying a number of Iranian recipes out of a novel last year. (I wish I could remember the name of the book. It was a great story about a pair of Iranian sisters who immigrated to Scotland and opened a restaurant there.) I’ve heard of people growing poppies (papaver somniferum) from the seeds available in the spice aisle of the grocery store, so nigella seeds should work too – as long as they weren’t toasted.

I sampled a seed to try and detect if they had been cooked, but, honestly, I couldn’t tell. They tasted dark and spicy, a little like a black mustard seed. Having never tasted nigella seeds before, I didn’t know if I was tasting the pre- or post-toasting flavor. Praying that my seeds were uncooked, I sprinkled them over the fading tulip foliage in early May. The perforated top of the container’s inner lid was quite handy for sowing.

It turns out that the seeds were NOT toasted. I have lots of thriving nigella seedlings pushing up through the tulip husks. Hooray! I’m looking forward to the other-worldy flowers. I doubt they’ll be in bloom by the date of my open garden, but I can always hope.

Now I’m wondering what else I could grow from my spice cupboard. An annual experiment, indeed!

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Blogger Entangled said...

A friend looked at me very oddly when I mentioned that I had mail-ordered coriander seed. "I always just plant the seeds from the spice store", he said.

I've also heard of someone trying to get "real" oregano by sowing the debris from the bottom of a jar of oregano leaves, although it seems to me you'd be as likely to get weeds as to get oregano seeds from there.

4:27 AM  
Blogger Connie said...

I have been growing nigella for years, but didn't know the seed was edible. By the way, Poppies and nigella make a great cottage combo!

2:37 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Great way to get plants and spice. I always wanted to try planting sesame seeds to see what the plant looked like as well as other seeds. Cardamom looks interesting and so do seeds from the Indian grocery. I may give it a try.

6:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Try poppy seeds. I havent done it for several years but the poppies I grew from them were huge and stunning-mauve and white. gorgeous!

8:24 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

I can't wait to see how this experiment turns out. I inadvertently started annual poppies in my garden via, I believe, a bagel. They have now taken over my garden! But are so easy to get rid of, I can hardly consider them invasive.

Good luck!

8:30 PM  
Anonymous Holley said...

Good idea. I think my husband might rebel if I raided his spice rack though.

And I think the name of the book is "Pomegranate Soup." It's on my to get and read list.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Tina said...

What will the experiment be for 2008?

4:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have planted dill , coriander, and anise from my spice supboard. Im glad I hit this page, Im going to try the poppies and nigellatoo. I think Ill try cardomon and mustard as well. Ive got a bare patch behing some shrubs in my new home in tampa, and Ive finally gotten the home owners association to permit me to plant some things BEHING my shrubs without getting permission from them... Ive been driving them CRAZY every time they meet , requesting MORE plants, I feel like Oliver Twist... I will not stop though till Ive made this a home, and fruitful...thanks for the tips.... Im about to try ginger from the frig as well, oh yes while we're at it, most beans and lentils from your kitchen shelf will sprout nicely...

10:41 PM  

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