Guide to growing Black Cumin - Nigella
Nigella are hardy annuals that grow from 15 to 60 cm in height.
Their seeds are often used in cooking. Nigella blooms in the summer with blue, pink or white flowers and have feathery leaves.
Some common names for Nigella include, Black Cumin, Fennel Flower and Love in a mist.
When using Nigella seeds for cooking the seeds can be harvested by placing the pods in a paper bag; allow to dry out completely, then rub the paper bag in your hands to release the black cumin seeds. Next cut the corner of the bag and retrieve the seeds with use of a sieve. Ensure that the black cumin seeds are completely dry then store in an airtight container.
Quick Nigella Growing Guide and Facts
Common Names: Black Cumin, Fennel Flower, Devil in a Bush, Love in a Mist.
Life Cycle: Half hardy annual, hardy annual.
Height: 8 to 20 inches (20 to 50 cm).
Native: Europe, Southwest Asia, North Africa.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 10.
Flower Details: Pale blue, white, pink. At least five petals. Lacy bracts.
Sow Outside: Cover seed. Sow every three weeks from just before the last frost until the start of summer; and again in autumn (in warm areas). Spacing 10 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).
Sow Inside: Use peat pots. Germination time: two to three weeks. Temperature 70°F (21°C). Seven or eight weeks in advance. Transplant outdoors following the last frost or in autumn.
Requirements: Full sunlight. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 7. Average soil. Can survive in dry soils. Regular feed. Regular watering during prolonged dry periods. Deadhead.
Miscellaneous: The seeds from Bunium persicum (synonymous with Carum bulbocastanum) are also known as black cumin. In addition to black cumin some other names for the seeds of Nigella sativa include Nutmeg flower; Blackseed; Black caraway; Fennel flower; and Roman coriander.
How to grow Black Cumin
It is best to sow black cumin seeds once a month from just before the last frost of spring until early summer, and then once again towards the end of autumn; this will result in a prolonged blooming period when growing black cumin. Once sown lightly cover the seeds. It should take about one or two weeks for Nigella species to germinate once the temperature reaches 15 degrees Centigrade. Ideally Black cumin should be grown in a sunny part of the garden that has good drainage and a soil of pH 6 to 7.
It is possible to grow Nigella species indoors first, it is best to grow them in peat pots and allow seven weeks or so before transplanting them in the garden in spring or autumn at about 25 cm apart.
Caring for Nigella plants
It is easy to look after Black cumin and other Nigella; water during very dry spells supply fertiliser, If you are not growing black cumin for its seeds then deadhead the flowers for further blooms and to stop them spreading.