About Saffron Bulbs: (Crocus Sativus):
Description: Lilac blue flowers with purple veining. Vivid orange/red stigmas that are the source of saffron food flavouring
Plant Height : 8 cm to 12 cm
Planting Depth : 5 to 7cm of soil over the top of the bulbs
Planting Time : December to February Flowering Time : March to May
Planting Position : Full Sun (the more, the better in Tasmania)
Climate : The bulbs need a cold winter with at least a few good frosts to flower successfully. Anywhere North of Woolongong along the coast would be too dicey. Further inland would be ok.
You will find a lot of info about cultivation on our web page by clicking the "Growing Saffron" button (top lefthand corner) and downloading the PDF files there.
The main thing is that you have loose, well drained soil, AND the bulbs don't need ANY water until mid March when some autumn
rains or watering will help them get going again. Just some residual moisture in the soil is good enough from preventing the
bulbs from drying out too much.
Mine did one year when I stored them in wire baskets in an open sided shed where the wind got to them, and they didn't flower
So unless the soil is extremely soggy and there are extended rain periods, the corms are best replanted straight away, but they should be in the ground again before the end of February at the latest. I would plant them about 10-15cm apart in rows ~30cm apart with 7 to 10 cm of soil over the top of them. At that spacing you can leave them in the ground for 3-4 years before digging them up for replanting. I put mine closer together because I dig them up every year to sell the right size corms and replant the rest. Italians dig theirs up every year as well. There are many cultivation methods as you'll see in those files....
I have found that old Merino gravel (sheep poo) is very beneficial for the corms.
The corms are also suitable for potting, but perform a bit better in the ground.
Tip: You can collect your own saffron spice by picking out the bright orange stigmas from the flowers. They are best picked as soon as they are fully open. I pinch the flowers off with my thumb nail about 1mm below the petals, then sit down to pull them apart to get the stigmas.
Dry them well and store in airtight, non-synthetic container in the dark. 150 to 200 flowers will give you 1 gram of (dried) saffron. Grind in mortar and pestle before use (for faster release of flavour and colour) and soak in wine or milk for a few hours or overnight. (Rinse mortar with cooking liquid) Whole threads are best soaked for 12 to 24 hours.
Mina, a dear Iranian friend of mine gave me the following great tips:
Grind the threads in the mortar with a small amount of sugar, and keep your saffron threads stored in the freezer where they'll last for years without deterioration.
We guarantee a minimum average weight of 5 grams per bulb, but not all the bulbs will be of flowering size in the first season.
We endeavour to have at least half of them of flowering size though.