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How Do I Grow a Cumin Plant?

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  • Written By: Megan Shoop
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 30 June 2014
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Cumin is a smoky-tasting, brown spice commonly used in Mexican, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines, especially as a spice in taco seasoning and curry powders. In herbal medicine, it is often used to ease pain and warm the body. Those that love the scent and flavor of cumin may find it beneficial to grow their own cumin plant. These little trees grow best in warm soils that are slightly deficient of nutrients. Most cumin plants require consistently moist, well-drained soils and grow best if started indoors.

Dried cumin seeds generally work best for growing the plants. Most of these seeds sprout within three weeks, when sown in peat soils. Some gardeners choose pots made of compressed peat and simply fill them with peat moss. A hole about 3 inches (about 6 cm) deep should be plenty deep enough to keep most cumin seeds warm. The seed should be covered with moss, but the gardener should not press down on the moss to pack it.

Peat pots should typically be placed in a shallow tray to catch any water draining out of them. This also allows the pots to pull in water from the tray as they dry out. The soil for growing a cumin plant should be moist to the touch, but not soggy or dripping. Placing the tray of pots in a sunny window or under a grow light should also be beneficial. The temperature around the planted seeds should typically be at least 68°F (20°C).

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Most cumin saplings can’t survive in cold temperatures, such as fall and winter temperatures in much of northern Europe, the northern United States, and Canada. Gardeners in those areas should start growing a cumin plant indoors and wait until the end of May to plant it outdoors, if an outdoor location is desired. Some may prefer to keep cumin in a greenhouse, but a mature plant can often withstand winter temperatures by going dormant. Those that choose to transplant a cumin plant outdoors may have the most success using raised beds. These beds should typically be filled with topsoil, not potting soil, because keeping the nutrient content low often yields spicier seeds.

Gardeners growing their own cumin plant should note that rainfall, or twice weekly watering, usually keeps the trees plenty moist. Hot weather and drought may require the gardener to water outdoor cumin twice or three times a week, depending on how dry the soil gets. Most cumin trees don’t require fertilizer or side dressing to produce seeds.

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Discuss this Article

browncoat
Post 3

As a bonus, if you've got a lot of cumin on your hands, it can be used as bird seed. And some people chew the seeds after a meal in order to promote digestion as well.

It's been grown all over the world for thousands of years, so if you do decide to give it a go, you'll be in good company. It really does need a lot of heat though, so if you're in an area that seems like it could be borderline or too cold, I would try different methods (such as raising in a greenhouse, or indoors) with a few plants first, before trying to plant a lot of them.

indigomoth
Post 2

@Ana1234 - Cumin really isn't that difficult to grow. The plants remind me a little bit of fennel plants although I think they smell much nicer.

There's just something very satisfying about growing your own spices that I just don't get when I buy them from the shops. And I do think they taste better, because you can pick them at the right time of day and handle them properly in order to keep the flavor strong.

When you get them from the shop, I think they dry them a little bit too much in order to preserve the pods.

Ana1234
Post 1

It's always nice to be able to grow your own spices, but I think the most important part is to grind the spices as you use them, rather than to grind them in advance.

So, to some extent, I don't think having a cumin plant or buying whole cumin seeds from the store makes much difference. If you can't manage to get one to grow in your area, then don't worry too much about it.

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