Not Just Pretty

Summer is definitely on the wane here in New England. Apples, pumpkins, and Hubbard squash are popping up at the farm stands.  The sun is still warm, but the wind is cooler.  I am trying to remember where I stashed all my sweaters last May.

Despite the oncoming chilly weather, there are plenty of things that can be planted this time of year.  Peas, lettuce,spinach, cabbages, and Swiss chard actually love the cooler temperatures of September. This is also a good time to plant flower bulbs.  I ordered 25 crocus bulbs recently, and they showed up in my mail box this week. After a quick discussion with Mr. Food It Yourself, we determined the best place for them in our yard.  Observe…

I decided the space between our cherry trees was perfect for our crocus bulbs. The soil is very tight and stony in that area so I went for hand tools rather than the rototiller.  Bonus- no need to hit the gym today!

I decided the space between our cherry trees was perfect for our crocus bulbs. The soil is very tight and stony in that area so I went for hand tools rather than the rototiller. Bonus- no need to hit the gym today!

 

Yeah, this soil is very stony and, to be blunt crappy.  Speaking of which....

Yeah, this soil is very stony and, to be blunt, crappy. Speaking of which….

I replaced the native soil with my favorite soil fixer- composted manure. It is gravel-free and will offer the crocus bulbs just enough nutrients to establish themselves.

I replaced the native soil with my favorite soil fixer- composted manure. It is gravel-free and will offer the crocus bulbs just enough nutrients to establish themselves.

 

Here is the bag of bulbs, as received from Baker Creek. I looked them all over prior to planting. None looked damaged or moldy, so each one was planted.

Here is the bag of bulbs, as received from Baker Creek. I looked them all over prior to planting. None looked damaged or moldy, so each one was planted.

 

The included planting instructions noted that 12 bulbs could be planted per square foot.  I built up a (roughly) two square foot area of manure in the trench I dug and distributed my 25 bulbs.

The included planting instructions noted that 12 bulbs could be planted per square foot. I built up a (roughly) two square foot area of manure in the trench I dug and distributed my 25 bulbs.

 

The prescribed planting depth for crocus bulbs is two inches, so I topped my arranged bulbs with two inches of manure.  Nothing is too good for these beauties. Actually, I used two bags of manure, for a total cost of under $10.

The prescribed planting depth for crocus bulbs is two inches, so I topped my arranged bulbs with two inches of manure. Nothing is too good for these beauties. Actually, I used two bags of manure, for a total cost of under $10.

 

Finally, I topped the crocus bed with a layer of bark mulch.  I extended the mulch around the two trees. As my mom always says- you have to do the pretty.

Finally, I topped the crocus bed with a layer of bark mulch. I extended the mulch around the two trees. As my mom always says- you have to do the pretty.

I should probably note that these are not run-of-the-mill snow crocuses.  These are saffron crocuses, which I ordered from one of my favorite seed and plant suppliers, Baker Creek Seeds.  These crocuses pop up in the spring but do not bloom until fall.  The flowers open to reveal red-orange stigmata, known to be the most expensive seasoning in the world.   Not only will they make my front yard look lovely as the leaves fall they will make for some tasty creations in my kitchen.  Here are a few saffron-centric recipes that I have my eye on:

This fruit and nut spiked twist on the classic saffron rice from The Food Network is intriguing

This saffron-tinged cauliflower soup from Epicurious looks delicious and not overly complicated

This variation of falafel looks interesting

I may have to try Cupcake Project’s saffron cupcake recipe, just to I can experience dessert like the 1%.

I’m not 100% sure saffron crocuses will survive in my area.  Some on-line sources say they are hardy to zone 4, others say they will only survive to zone 6. (Click here if you don’t know what that means).  I am willing to take the chance, though, to add some exotic flavor to my DIYet.  What is the most far out thing you’ve ever tried to grow? Did you succeed? Share in the comments section!

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